Published: August 23rd 2011, RHCB
Pages: 277 pages, hardback
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): "The devil walks... But the devil can make no headway if he has no help. We must invite him in..."
Raised in secrecy by a mother everyone thinks has gone mad, Daniel's only link to his past is the intricately built model of the family home -- High Gates. The dolls' house is perfect in every detail. As Daniel is reunited with the last remaining member of his family -- his 'uncle' Severin, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a sinister wooden doll he has found hidden in the house, he begins to suspect that this vicious, haunted puppet of a figure has a chilling influence, bringing cruelty and spite in its wake. Now Daniel's very life is at risk as his uncle is determined to get his hands on the figure. The menace builds throughout in this deliciously creepy Gothic tale.
My review: I first discovered Anne Fine as a school girl, when we studied Flour Babies in my English class – I loved the story and devoured many more of her books throughout my younger years, I remember being completely terrified by Tulip Touch. However, it’s been many years since I’ve read an Anne Fine novel so I was really excited to hear about The Devil Walks at the RHCB Blogger Brunch at the beginning of this year.
I received a review copy as soon as they became available and read it the day it arrived. I was utterly captivated from beginning to end and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one to any of you. It’s definitely very creepy but I think the strong world building and fascinating characters will hold the attention of any of you who aren’t huge horror fans.
Uncle Severin is a fantastic villain and I would love to see him brought to life on the big screen – maybe by Ralph Fiennes, definitely someone charming and handsome. At first he seems every inch the caring uncle but the more we (and Daniel) learn about him, the more unsettling he becomes. Something just isn’t quite right up at High Gates and it’s up to Daniel to discover the truth about his family, especially his uncle’s horrible secret.
There are some quite shocking scenes in The Devil Walks, particularly when Daniel visits his mother – I won’t say anything else that may give away any of the plot but it really did make me sit up and pay attention. Anne Fine isn’t a writer to mince her words, neither is she one to put in a shocking moment for effect.
There’s definitely an old school gothic vibe to The Devil Walks. The whole time I was reading I was reminded of Henry James and Mary Shelley and Ira Levin – all wonderful writers who have a special place in my heart, mostly for scaring the hell out of me!
The Devil Walks is a brilliant book with a terrifying denouement. I urge all of you to read it as soon as you can get your hands on a copy, it will have you hooked from the outset, I promise.
First line: ‘Right from the very beginning, my life was strange.’
Read if you liked…: The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Turn of the Screw – Henry James
Total: 15/20 (B)