Book Review: The White Devil by Justin Evans

The White Devil by Justin EvansThe description of this book appealed to me so I requested an ARC from Harper. And I was right: this is a great book!

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.

Rating: 5/5

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)

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About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

20 Responses to Book Review: The White Devil by Justin Evans

  1. parrish says:

    You had me until the improbable love interest, that makes it sound like a for film book & really the. only girl in the whole school, had she been banished there a reason not disclosed? Hoping you can explain the glitches as the premise sounded fine

    • Leeswammes says:

      Parrish, it didn’t worry me too much, but it seemed odd to have a girl there. She was the daughter of the Dean or whatever high-up person there is at such a school (can’t remember the exact term). I think she was bullied at her own school and then allowed to go to her father’s school. Something like that.

      I didn’t mind too much but it was something I can’t imagine would ever happen at a school like that. The book is otherwise a very good book. I don’t read ghost stories very often, I don’t care much about them, but in this case, I liked it a lot.

      I’m just thinking that probably the presence of the ghost was *more* probably that that of the girl!🙂

      Anyway, maybe a redeeming factor is that there is a lot of talk about Lord Byron and his history. That’s quite interesting as well.

  2. Cindy says:

    It sounds good🙂

  3. Tes says:

    This sounds like an interesting story. I always love ghost story with this kind of investigating thing going on🙂

  4. I love books that takes place in school settings. This sounds like a winner. Great review.

  5. Nadine Nys says:

    Another book for the TBR-list…🙂

  6. I’m putting this on my list for RIP in the fall — sounds like a perfect Halloween read! Thanks for the review!

  7. I like the sound of this one, Judith. Is it more mystery than fantasy though? (not a huge fantasy fan).

    • Leeswammes says:

      Yes, it’s more mystery, Boof. There isn’t a lot of fantasy in the book, except for that ghost. It’s definitely a great mystery book.

  8. Leslie says:

    I like a good ghost story. Maybe I can squeeze in the audio version of this one.

    • Leeswammes says:

      That’s a good idea. Is it a squeeze, Leslie? Too much to read? I’m waiting for quite a few books to arrive so at the moment I can more or less read what I want and it’s a quiet time.

  9. Trisha says:

    I can’t wait to read this one. I have next week off and it’s on the to read pile!

  10. Thanks for sharing this with me! It seems a bit creepier than what I’d usually read but I’ll take your word that it’s a great read!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Jess, it’s a bit creepy but never too bad. I can’t even read most Stephen King novels so don’t worry, I have a low creepiness threshold too!

  11. Pingback: Book Review: The White Devil by Justin Evans « Stargazerpuj's Book Blog

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