My review of Devil House is going to be a bit unfair because the book was not at all what I was expecting.
I could have sworn I saw a review claiming this book was really creepy/scary with a dash of gore. In my opinion, that is 100% false. There is a description of an eye injury that I had to skip because I can’t tolerate eyeball stuff. But the story did not creep me out or scare me at all.
The story is told by Gage Chandler, a true-crime author. He’s had one book that was successful enough to spawn a movie adaption and now is researching a crime from the ’80s for his next novel.
The book is divided into sections with the first being Chandler describing his research process. He purchases, and lives in, a house where a double homicide occurred and tries to immerse himself in the details of his subject as much as possible. In the next section, Chandler describes the events chronicalled in his first novel, whose killer the media dubbed the White Witch. Then there’s a history of the Devil House he bought, and then a random, Old English-y legend called Song of Gorbonian about maybe like a Celtic guy? I don’t know. It was probably a metaphor for something but this point was about half-way through the novel, I was disappointed that I had not been frightened at all, and now I’m thinking, “ok, there’s gotta be a twist. Any minute now, BOOM!, this book is going to take a sharp left turn.”
He goes back to describing the murders that happened in the Devil House and then there’s actually a really interesting section where the mother of one of the White Witch’s victims contacts Gage Chandler to air her grievances about his novel.
The last section is told by a childhood friend of Chandler’s. I guess you could say there is a bit of a twist at the end but certainly nothing in the way I was thinking.
There’s a compelling premise in Devil House regarding what it means to be a writer of true crime and what responsibility the author may have toward both the victims and the perpetrators. However, because I was expecting an eerie story that would keep me up at night, I found myself continuously waiting for ‘the good stuff’.
Here’s a quote marking an example of my misconception:
I always end up at the actual scene of the crime, no matter where I begin: that’s my method….It helps, when it’s possible, to begin in the same spot where you’ll end up: you get both views this way, the bird’s eye and the worm’s. But no matter what, I have to get my hands dirty. It matters whose air I’m breathing.
This was within the first 50 pages of the book and that it matters whose air I’m breathing made me think perhaps Chandler was going to be possessed. In hindsight, the above quote made perfect sense for the actual story that was being told.
I can’t tell if my review of Devil House is a bit too harsh. Had I not had such inaccurate assumptions, I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more. Instead, I spent the whole novel waiting, waiting, waiting for anything unnerving to happen. Now I’m in the mood for something scary (But not gory. I don’t have a high tolerance for gore). So if anyone has recommendations, I’d love to hear them!