Title: The White Devil
Author: Justin Evans
Genre: Paranormal Thriller/Horror
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
ISBN-10: 0061728284 (Harper)
ISBN-13: 978-0061728280 (Harper)
Reviewed by: Michelle
Sex, Death, and Boarding School
When seventeen-year-old Andrew Taylor is transplanted from his American high school to a British boarding school–the English, hypertraditional, all-boys Harrow School–he finds his past mistakes following him, with an added element of horror: visions of a pale, white-haired boy from Harrow’s past. Either Andrew is losing his mind, or the house legend about his dormitory being haunted is true.
When one of his schoolmates dies mysteriously of a severe pulmonary illness, Andrew is blamed and spurned by nearly all his peers. In his loneliness and isolation, Andrew becomes obsessed with Lord Byron’s story and the poet’s status not only as a literary genius and infamous seducer but also as a student at the very different Harrow of two centuries ago–a place rife with violence, squalor, incurable diseases, and tormented love affairs.
When frightening and tragic events from that long-ago past start to recur in Harrow’s present, and Andrew’s haunting begins to seem all too real, he is forced to solve a two-hundred-year-old mystery that threatens the lives of his friends and his teachers–and, most terrifyingly, his own.
Quick & Dirty: A troubled youth meets another with a vengeful quest in this paranormal thriller.
Opening Sentence: Andrew Taylor stood alone before a gate.
I have never read anything by Justin Evans, but when I was given The White Devil, I was definitely intrigued. This genre is outside of my reading comfort zone, but didn’t stop me from admiring the graphically haunting cover. The White Devil was the cause of eerie goosebumps and restless nights, but I had a hard time connecting with a few of the story’s elements.
Andrew Taylor has been taken away from the comforts of America, his home in Connecticut, his high school, and everything familiar to him. His father enrolled him in a British boarding school, Harrow School, an all-boys school that is full of centuries-old traditions and prestige. Andrew’s father had one goal in mind, to erase his past mistakes. But they were all wrong. Andrew soon has visions of a ghost, a pale boy from the dark corners of Harrow’s past. Andrew’s life gets worse as dangerous mysteries remain unexplained and he himself is blamed by all of his peers. Andrew turns to a life of isolation, lonely and obsessing over the story for whom the ghost thinks Andrew resembles. Danger lurks in the corners of Harrow School.
It was difficult for me to relate to Andrew, in most aspects, but it has always been difficult for me to relate to male characters. Andrew was troubled and lonely, having fallen into trouble and bad habits. In this last-resort effort, he moves to a prestigious boarding school. This is where I started to disconnect. I sympathized with Andrew, for all of the familial problems, and I definitely related to his loneliness, but it was hard for me to understand this troubled youth. Andrew goes through a lot, in The White Devil, everything more horrifying than the next. And Andrew has a hidden strength. He must have, right? To endure everything he goes through, he definitely has to have strength.
The stereotypes of England play really well with the setting of Harrow School. I was definitely scared just reading the details of Andrew’s new environment. From the mansion that he stays at to the dark halls of Harrow School, there wasn’t a moment that I didn’t hold my breath. Evans is a lyrical genius, blending between the normal and paranormal. It was seamless and realistic, and boy did my imagination run away with it.
The White Devil had perfect pacing for the tone and various scenes of the story. The pacing sped up when needed, and slowed down just when Evans wanted the reader to be attentive. He has this approach to fiction and literature that is captivating and creative, and I will be a fan forever. I enjoyed the characters enough, favoring some more than others. Evans’ dialogue and banter is enjoyable and adds to the details and flaws of his characters.
Andrew gaped. The meaning of the words struck him. An erotic charge crackled in the air. The pure submission of it. The boy advanced, his legs bare, smooth, and feminine, his shirt hanging in shreds. The boy pulled the remnants of his shirt apart, offering himself. Andrew took another involuntary step back.
Then something caught Andrew’s eye. Down and to his right. A candle, in a dull metal holder. This had been the source of that dim light all along.
Wait– a candle?
The boy moved faster toward him now. Andrew continued his retreat until his foot struck something. A tinkle of metal on tile. A pssh sound.
The room went black.
FTC Advisory: Harper provided me with a copy of The White Devil. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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