The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Stevie Clark's one and only best friend goes missing, and the small town of Deer Valley aren't all too keen to find the troublesome youngster. Jude Brighton's known for his temper, but to Stevie, he's the singular person that really understands him. After the first forty-eight hours, the possibility of Jude's safe return is rapidly dwindling, but that doesn't deter Stevie from making his own investigation. He's determined to find his cousin, and get back to their old antics.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I can't say that I was immediately drawn into this book; it started dreadfully slow, with a hundred or so pages of almost nothing happening. Boredom began to make itself known, and I admit, I experienced a slight amount of trepidation. I really didn't want to be disappointed, but I realise my grave mistake of expecting too much too soon. You see, Ahlborn's intention became crystal clear the further I progressed, and by the time I reached the end, I was far from let down. Patience is all I needed before the proverbial hit the fan and things got deliciously dark and creepy. I even talked and theorised about this book at length, my significant other the victim to my incessant chattering, because whilst it offered clues as to what caused certain events to occur, it didn't outright state it. If left my mind racing and that gets a huge amount of appreciation from me.
Two, seemingly separate storylines were thrown together to make up the plot. The very first part is where I questioned the pace, as all it consisted of was the worrying and concern of Stevie, of whom had discovered the disappearance of his cousin. It's not that I didn't like Stevie - consider it the opposite, actually, but I just expected something more to happen in that number of pages. Despite the transition of the second section bringing some confusion, I quickly became totally and completely engrossed in Rosie's tale. It's where things really started to kick off, and Ahlborn's talent hit me square in the face. I loved every moment of it, even when I genuinely felt uncomfortable at a certain point. The horror aspect could be considered subtle to a degree, with the weaving of some rather typical elements that are popular in the genre, but it was done extremely well.
I came to understand how pivotal the character of Stevie was, and whilst Jude may have been a large factor regarding the plot, Stevie was the ultimate vocal point; by all intents and purposes, the unlikely hero. The struggle with his mental state, including the difficulty with something so many of us take for granted - simple communication - was composed in a way that fully expressed the hardships of his condition. Ahlborn clearly had insight into such subjects, to be able to create such a wonderfully complicated child. I don't think I've ever read of a character quite like him before, which raises the question of why individuals with mental health issues aren't more present within literature. Is it because they're generally unreliable as protagonists? Food for thought, I suppose.
Even though I like to get down to specifics, I'll refrain from the huge details that would spoil the entire story. Suffice it to say, I liked the portrayal of "Ras", the somewhat mysterious figure that held the position of villain. He remained primarily in the background, but there was no question as to whom he represented in the grand scheme of things. The ending itself brought with it a sense of sadness, but not because it was badly done. Oh no, it was just... sad.
Who am I kidding? The ending ruined me. It took me days to recover! Why toy with my feelings, dammit?!
In conclusion: After a slow beginning, the creepy factor really set in. This was my first novel by this author, and I was very much surprised at how much I enjoyed it in the end. I very nearly rated it five stars, but the first hundred pages perhaps could have been better.
It was like the riddle his teacher had presented at school: If a tree falls in a forest and there's nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer was no. Because without ears, sound didn't exist. Without eyes, light was darkness. And without a body, there was no victim.
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