Book Review: The White Devil by Justin Evans
May 10, 2011 20 Comments
It’s a ghost story with a kind of murder mystery interwoven: further killings by the ghost have to be stopped. How can this be done?
The White Devil: What it is about
Andrew Taylor has blown it at school in America. After a drugs scandal and expulsion from school his chances of finding a good university are zero. His parents sent him to England to retake his last year at high school at Harrow, one of the country’s leading private schools.
Andrew is housed in The Lot, an old house that is used as a residential place for 80 boys. Piers Hawkes is the house master in charge. He’s a poet and is working on a play about Byron, who was at Harrow school 200 years ago. When it is discovered that Andrew looks a lot like Byron, he’s given the lead role.
But while Andrew is still settling in he finds one of his house mates being killed in an alleyway. The killer is a strange looking person who disappears without Andrew seeing him go. That was only his first encounter with the ghost of The Lot.
Andrew, Hawkes, and the lovely Persephone, the only girl at the school, investigate the murder and the identity of the ghost and figure out the reason he is trying to kill people. They need to stop it before other people die.
The White Devil: What I thought
I loved this book. I didn’t expect it when I started, somehow, but after a few pages, I was already gripped.
Of course, a story that takes place at one of England’s most expensive and oldest private boy schools is going to be interesting. Add an American boy who looks at it with the eyes of an outsider. Add a centuries-old ghost. And you’ve got a great story.
It wasn’t very scary but it sometimes threatened to become very scary. The encounters with the ghost could be read without hiding under the blankets but the story was creepy enough to keep me reading (so I could get past the scary part).
It was a bit unlikely that a girl would be studying at this school for boys, and yes, of course she and Andrew soon fall in love. A bit unlikely and too obvious, respectively.
I loved Hawkes, the dissident house master, who believed in Andrew’s visions of the ghost and helped him solve the case. Hawkes was a very real person (and a real underdog at that), who should have been fired long ago. I loved it how Hawkes tried to better his life.
Andrew was a believable protagonist. He was behaving himself (against his character) as much as he could, but ignored the rules when he found that there was no other way to do what was needed.
I got this book: free from Harper in return for a review (ARC)
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 384
First published: 2011, mid-May
Genre: fantasy, mystery
I loved this book. If you love it too, consider nominating this book for the Independent Literary Awards under Speculative Fiction. Any book blogger can nominate titles! (nominations open September – December)