Daughters Unto Devils (Release Date: September 29th, 2015)
When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.
When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.
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I went into this read without any pre-conceived ideas. The first half of the novel is a slow burn. We get a lot of internal dialogue from the main character as she shares her feelings about her family members, God/spirituality/evil in the world, and herself, especially when it comes to the boy she’s been having sex with in the forest.
As the pages turn, we sense her grappling with mental illness as a result of the traumatic events from last winter. I kept wondering what else occurred. Was there something demonic preying on them? Or was that all in her mind? Each time the narrator mentioned that previous winter, I kept hoping for a vivid reveal. I craved some kind of specific flashback or explanation, but that never came. That was all kind of a blur that I struggled to piece together.
What is done extremely well in this book is the psychological turmoil of not knowing what is real or unreal, of coping with self-loathing, while at the same time searching for redemption. As the foreshadowing piles up, and clues are dropped along the way, I wanted to see how it all came together. Many of the pieces tied together by the end, which I enjoyed. For instance, the creepy stories her lover told her about the prairie and the scarecrows come full circle. The unsettling aspects of the nearby doctor and his son are uncovered. In the end, Amanda must save herself and the remainder of her family in the final moments. Finding remnants of redemption and sanity by facing her demons are within reach Amanda’s reach. There’s a lot of intensity in those last pages. The horrific descriptions are quite well done. In other words, you get a payoff for that slow burn.
This book is definitely worth picking up, if you need a quick horror fix. Some of those terrifying details kind of stay with you after you close the book. And, there’s a satisfying feeling that the narrator’s journey is over. For now.
My Rating… B