An unforgettable horror novel from bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn—hailed as a writer of “some of the most promising horror I’ve encountered in years” (New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire)—in which a small-town boy investigates the mysterious disappearance of his cousin and uncovers a terrifying secret kept hidden for years.
Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.
That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.
The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
Publication Date: February 7, 2017 by Gallery Books
I picked up Ania Ahlborn’s novel, Brother, last year and it utterly terrified me. Although my current TBR pile is so out of control that I haven’t had the chance to go back and read the rest of her novels, I felt compelled to put a hold on everything I was reading when I was given the chance to read her newest novel, The Devil Crept In, before its release date in February.
Much like Brother, Ahlborn’s newest novel left me questioning everything I thought I knew about the horror genre. The Devil Crept In is difficult to explain in terms of plot because there are so many intertwining stories that slowly come together as the events begin to intensify and unfold. While this type of plot line could have been messy and confusing if taken on by other authors, Ahlborn is such a gifted writer that she is able to craft her stories in a way where everything ultimately serves a purpose – even if you don’t understand that purpose until the end.
Let me start by saying I adored Stevie. I found his resiliency to be astonishing and his love for his cousin is admirable in its steadiness. Stevie not only exists in a world of adults who don’t necessarily want to believe the things he says he’s witnessed, he’s also always up against constant verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse from many of those same adults (his step-father and brother are despicable characters). Despite all the barriers that come along with not only these unsympathetic characters but also with the impairments Stevie possesses, he maintains his spirit and I loved him for that.
There was something out there. Something bad. He was sure of it. And he loved Jude too much to let him go alone.
I found Rosie’s character to be compelling as well. While I didn’t always understand her actions, there is something so heartbreaking about the position she finds herself in, all due to her desire to have a child to love. There were times I wanted to blame her for the decisions she makes, but then I quickly found myself feeling utter sympathetic for her as well.
Because it’s never the way you want it, she thought. The universe doesn’t care.
Did I forget to mention how frightening this book is? In addition to the cast of characters and the creepy atmosphere (I will NEVER go into the woods alone. Never. Again.), Ahlborn manages to make something supernatural seem so realistic. There is something very believable about this book that it managed to keep me up at night a bit too scared to go directly to bed after finishing a chapter. Not to mention (no spoilers!) the ending was stunning and equally alarming as the rest of the book. Perhaps because I sometimes find the ending of horror stories to be disappointing, I felt Ahlborn’s choice of finale heightened my already strong opinions of the book (the last page actually caused me to gasp in response).
So now that it’s been confirmed that I love Ahlborn’s work, I’ve already made a point to purchase her other novels. My bank account may have taken a hit, but my bookshelves have never been happier. Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books for giving me the chance to read The Devil Crept In before its publication date!