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Devil's Day

Review

Devil's Day

“The problem is that in the Endlands one story begs the telling of another and another and in all of them the Devil plays his part.”

This chilling depiction of the place where John Pentecost was brought up is enough to raise the hair on your arms. Author Andrew Michael Hurley has proven that he knows how to frighten and unsettle readers. DEVIL'S DAY is the follow-up to his multiple-award-winning debut, THE LONEY, which won the Costa First Novel Award, was named Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards, and was shortlisted for the James Herbert Award. Perhaps more vital to American readers is the fact that THE LONEY was blurbed by horror master Stephen King, who called it “an amazing piece of fiction.”

DEVIL'S DAY is a true gothic horror tale with all of the essential elements present: the dark, brooding woods, tainted family history, murder, curses and possible Satanic possession. Juggling all of this would be an arduous task for most authors, but Hurley is able to handle it in such a subtle manner that the novel reads like a throwback to much older gothic fiction. The tone is set on the first page when readers are taken back in time to a century prior, when a great blizzard hit the Endlands and legend spoke about the grand entrance of the Devil himself. The stories told the tale of how the Devil jumped from body to body, and species to species, and was the primary reason for the death of crops and livestock.

"DEVIL'S DAY is a slow burn of a novel that sneaks up on you at times and yells “boo!” only to retreat again into the background.... This very well-written book is just perfect for a spooky Halloween night."

There was sort of an exorcism intended to drive the Devil away. It is in honor of these events that the people of the Endlands continue to celebrate Devil's Day, which takes place shortly after the Gathering. Belief in these ancient rituals is what keeps the townspeople safe and thriving. However, like most superstitions that are passed down from generation to generation, it can have a negative effect on people's lives --- especially when they blame all their bad fortune on the Devil and what he is supposedly owed.

John and his pregnant wife, Kat, return to his birthplace for the funeral of his beloved grandfather, who was known to all as the Gaffer. To the contrary, John had a less-than-warm relationship with his father, who he still refers to as Dadda. Dadda also did not get along with his father, the now-deceased Gaffer. John will soon come to learn that part of that strained relationship comes from an act that the Gaffer committed that may have brought the Devil back down upon their family and farm.

Kat is making her first-ever visit to the Endlands and feels very much the outsider. The only person she seems to connect with is a young girl named Grace, a close friend of the family. But Grace is continuing to act odder and odder, and Kat and the other adults begin to have some concern for her state of mind. Meanwhile, Hurley continues to jump back and forth in time --- not just with the Pentecost family history, but also with the history of the Endlands, which began most notably under the rule of a man named Nathaniel Arncliffe. The passages concerning Arncliffe and his family tree are most enlightening and downright spooky.

As I continued reading DEVIL'S DAY, I could not help but compare it constantly to the 2015 horror film, The Witch. It is always interesting to see how people not from our modern age deal with actual evil, especially when they easily mistake coincidences and natural negative events for being supernaturally influenced. The other character that plays a huge role in this book isn't a person but a place. The Lancashire moors and the woods that lie upon it remain a foreboding figure that needs to be dealt with. These aren't the moors that Emily Brontë wrote about in WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Hurley's moors are a little closer to the ones that David Naughton and Griffin Dunne were warned to stay away from in An American Werewolf in London.

DEVIL'S DAY is a slow burn of a novel that sneaks up on you at times and yells “boo!” only to retreat again into the background. The themes of guilt intertwined with family history are inescapable, and readers are helpless to do anything more than read on as the inevitable payment is taken from the Pentecost family for all of their alleged sins. This very well-written book is just perfect for a spooky Halloween night.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on October 19, 2018

Devil's Day
by Andrew Michael Hurley

  • Publication Date: October 2, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Gothic, Horror, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • ISBN-10: 1328489884
  • ISBN-13: 9781328489883