THE WHITE DEVIL by Justin Evans

Book Quote:

“The eye sockets were sunken; the eyes protruded, a vivid blue; his flesh was a morbid gray. Long blond hair—almost white, albino-looking—hung over his eyes. Once he was forced to break from his labor to cough—and Andrew recognized the noise that had drawn him. The cough combined the bark of a sick animal with a wet, slapping sound. The skeletal man drew his hand across his mouth. Then he looked up. He locked eyes with Andrew.”

Book Review:

Review by Katherine Petersen  (OCT 1, 2011)

Kicked out of his last American boarding school for drugs, Andrew Taylor’s father has sent him to England’s Harrow Academy to redo his senior year. It’s his last chance, and Andrew tries hard to follow the rules and not bring attention to himself. But author Justin Evans has other plans for Andrew in The White Devil, his latest thriller/horror novel that sheds light on the bullying and other nastiness that can go on at boarding schools past and present.

Andrew witnesses the murder of his friend, Theo, on a path near the school’s graveyard, but he can’t give all the details to the police. No one would ever believe that a ghost, for that is all Andrew can come up with for an explanation of the albino-type figure that killed his friend and then vanished.

Rumors abound of the Lot Ghost, a ghost that haunts the house-turned-dorm in which Andrew lives. But there’s much more to this mystery that’s gradually revealed. Andrew bears a strong resemblance to Byron and is cast as the lead in the school play about the Harrow alumnus, written and directed by Piers Fawkes, a poet and master at Lot. Andrew’s other confidante and love interest is Persephone, the only girl at Harrow, the daughter of the school’s headmaster. What Andrew can piece together is that his friends’ lives are in danger, and if he can’t find out the mystery with Lord Byron at its center, he may die as well.

Life at Harrow lies at the center of Evans’s tale. He combines the bullying and torrid relationships of the past with the goings-on in the present, moving easily between the two. Our hero, Andrew, with his resemblance to Byron, links the two eras together. There’s a chance he can solve the mystery of who the ghost is and why people are dying with the help of Fawkes, Persephone and a library researcher, but time may run out on him.

My only pet peeve with this book is that the author tries to do too much. Add in Fawkes problem with alcohol, a speech Andrew has planned for speech day and some of the story threads get dropped without becoming fully developed. That said, Evans does a nice job of pulling the reader into the story and maintaining enough tension and hints to keep one’s focus.

I have a penchant for books with boarding schools at their center as well as those with historical settings in part or in whole, so I enjoyed the story immensely. Part horror and part thriller, there are enough creepy, very realistic moments in the story to give out shivers. Evans has a talent for vivid descriptions too, and some weren’t so pretty. While I don’t think the novel has any profound messages to pass along, fans of historical settings, Lord Byron or boarding schools should give it a whirl. Just don’t turn out the lights if it’s late.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 44 readers
PUBLISHER: Harper (May 10, 2011)
REVIEWER: Katherine Petersen
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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October 1, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Horror, Mystery/Suspense, Speculative (Beyond Reality), United Kingdom

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