You guys… 😢
I am sad to say that this book may have completely changed my feelings on old school 70’s-90’s horror books!
Horror movies are something that I have always been excited and passionate about ever since I was a wee young kid. I like most all kinds of horror: The goofy, the truly scary, the graphic, the slow burns, etc… Truth be told, there are very few types of horror I don’t like or find offensive. And to add to this, 70’s-90’s are my favorite decades of horror films!
However, at the end of the day, I am relatively new to reading horror, and especially the older horror books, outside of the classics of course.
When I saw this book was about witches and Halloween I got really excited. I didn’t think for a second that it would turn out to be what it was. I’m not saying the synopsis to this book is misleading, per se… But it was nothing like what I expected.
Ultimately, I think I might’ve learned something about my book tastes in this process.
In Sharon Valley, the same story is told at campfires and sleepovers: 70 years ago there was a family of witches who held a ceremony on Halloween night. The legend says that it was filled with blood, human sacrifice, and a pact with Satan himself.
Now it’s time for the pact to be made good, as the anniversary returns this Halloween.
In this story we follow the lives of multiple teens:
Lana: The new girl in town. We are along side her as she dates a couple different guys, tries to make new friends, and sometimes while she’s helping, (or trying to help,) her disfigured next door neighbor, Spiro.
Spiro: Disfigured, gigantic, and with an extremely abusive mother, Spiro doesn’t fit in anywhere. He’s tortured at school and he’s tortured at home. When Lana and her family move into the house next door, he becomes completely enthralled by her beauty and kindness… #thiscantendwell
Nancy: Nancy is one of the most popular girls in high school, but her wealth, beauty, and popularity cannot save her from the evil she’s unleashed inside the Ober’s tomb. On Halloween, two victims will need scarified to fulfill the Ober’s pact with the devil 70 years ago, and finally bring on the end of the days.
Each character in this novel was written very well and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each one in their contrasting situations.
However, while I only mention these three teens, in reality there are roughly 10 other characters with side plots simultaneously occurring. Sometimes this made things super confusing for me because there just too many people to keep straight! But on the other hand, it never got boring or stale.
For the most part, the first half of this book just follows around these characters during their daily routines. Nothing crazy eventful happens, as it’s mostly just character and story building. I didn’t mind this at all, even though it does go on for quite some time, because it lets your mind wander about what is going to happen!
But when the second half of the book starts, it shifts from 1st to 6th gear hella fast.
Although I will not be explaining anything in detail, I wanted to get a trigger warning out there for nudity, sexual assault, rape, incest, abuse of a corpse, and animal torture and deaths… Yes, deaths, there is more than one. *sigh*
Seemingly out of nowhere, kids are dying and coming back as demons, (cool, I’m into that,) there are graphic puppy and bunny murders, (wait, what the what?) there’s incest necrophilia, (girl, that’s just nasty,) and last but not least, some horrifically disgusting and violent sexual assaults. And please do note, that with each sexual assault came excessively graphic descriptions. (OK, THAT’S IT! GET ME THE F*CK OF HERE!)
So, let’s stop right here for a sec, k?
First of all, I had to skip through the puppy scene, but it does come back into the story later in a horrible way that I won’t mention. This thoroughly upset me and immediately knocked the book down to a significantly low rating. The bunny was sacrificed during a spell, (the only spell in the book I might add,) so this death did have a more significant part in the plot, but I still didn’t care for all of the sad and heartbreaking details that Fowler provided.
Secondly, the sexual assaults made me cringe and feel disgusting. You must understand the additional layer of vulgarity as most of the assaults include half rotting corpse demons. I hated hearing them, I hated vicariously experiencing them, and I wish they didn’t happen at all. But not only does it happen once, it happens multiple times! One of them, like the bunny, is sort of crucial to the story line, but the f*cking detail just elevated all of them to an unbearable level.
Y’all, by the time I got to this point in the book it was nearly over, and I already invested 10+ hours, or else I would’ve totally ditched it. Additionally, Audible froze my ass from returning any more books. (Yeah, I see you over there thinking, “why did she even finish this one?”)
By the time the the poodiddly finally hits the fan and the witchy stuff starts happening, which is why I’m f*cking here, the book is pretty much over.
However, I have to be fair… Yes, there are certain parts of the book that are entertaining, well written, and all around fun. Yes, some of the climaxes, deaths, etc., were creative and masterful. The book wasn’t 100% shit.
But I cannot praise the book for its accomplishments when the amount of issues are piled up so high that they completely overshadow what was good about this story.
To be clear, I came for the witchcraft, demons, deaths, and spooky stuff. What I got was demons, a few cool and fun scenarios, tons of rape, incest necrophilia, extreme deaths, animal torture, animal murder, with a tiny peppering of witchcraft at the end.
I’m doing my best not to write older horror books off entirely because of this experience, but I am new to this. This is one of the first old school horror books I’ve picked up in a while, (other than The Amulet, which I also had some issues with,) and The Devil’s End was ultimately a truly offensive experience.
I’m trying to tell myself that this specific book is the equivalent to what we call a “torture porn” in the horror film community: Entirely for shock value with very little creativity or plot. But since I am so new to this, I am not sure? Is it possible that this book just coincidentally happened to have everything that I hate? Or are a lot of horror authors really out there just to assault your senses?
To make matters worse, it appears that my opinion about this book is very unpopular on Goodreads and Amazon, which makes me nervous that many older horror books could be this way if that is what the audience demanded.
Please tell me there are actual good, scary, older horror books out there that aren’t just for shock value?
Maybe I’m just finding some bad ones?
My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
I’m begging to hear from you guys in the comments here.