Book Review: The Devil Crept In

By Ania Ahlborn

The Devil Crept In is a scary story that really sneaks up on you. The ending is utterly fantastic. The story is told by two completely unreliable narrators. The first narrator is a ten year old boy, Stevie, who hallucinates and has a wicked case of echolalia. The second narrator, Rose, is an insecure woman who after losing everything, finds herself inexplicably pregnant.

Rose’s story covers 25 years, while Stevie’s spans only a week. For his part, Stevie is investigating the disappearance (and sudden reappearance) of his best friend/cousin/next door neighbor, Jude. We get a glimpse of Stevie’s life–he’s the punching bag in his family. Figuring out what happened to Jude gives him meaning and courage.

Meanwhile, Rose’s story starts the day her husband dies. They had only just lost a baby, and now Rose lost her husband, too. But in her grief, she discovers she’s pregnant. She’s overcome with shame by the pregnancy. Constantly worried about what the townsfolk will think. When she finally gives birth, in her secluded house in the woods, she finds her baby is not much of a baby at all. By the time he’s ten, he’s catching and eating live chickens. She holes him up in their house in the woods.

While investigating Jude’s disappearance, Stevie heard stories about how, over a decade ago, a child, Max Larsen, went missing. And how no one has domesticated pets in Dear Valley, where they lived, because the animals always went crazy after getting loose in the woods. When Jude reappears, stray cats surround him, and he keeps going back to the woods.

The stories merge in the last 100 pages. Those pages turn themselves. It’s difficult to assess the characters. They are all horribly flawed. You want to feel bad for Rose, but there are so many irredeemable things she’s done. Stevie is obviously sympathetic, but is anything he sees really happening? To get the full picture, you have to read the epilogue. The author sews it up while leaving you deeply unsatisfied. We’ll never know what really happened to Jude, Max, those cats and dogs. And who the heck was that Ras guy?

Interested in reading it? Buy it from Amazon here.

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