Format: eARC | Genre: Horror, supernatural | Publisher: Ragnarok Publications | Publication date: June 30th 2014 | My rating: 4/5
An ancient game of chance and Fate. One boy’s smoldering hate, another boy’s need to make things right, and a father’s ghosts of Vietnam past. These are the key players in this latest tale of revenge and reparation performed on the stage of the strange Adirondack town of Clifton Heights, NY.
The Man In Yellow
Tahawus is a small, isolated Adirondack town just north of Clifton Heights. A quiet place filled with simple people of an ardent faith, nothing much ever happens there…until the man in yellow comes calling. He knows your worst nightmares, and he can offer your fondest wish. All you need is faith…and a mouth from which to scream.
Being a long-time fan of Stephen King, I found it pretty hard to resist agreeing to review this book after I read that blurb, up there. Creepy horror in a small town has ticked my boxes since I was a teenager being seriously freaked out by It (and I suspect that explains a thing or two), so this was a bit of a no-brainer…
…And it pays off, I’m happy to say. The comparison to King is more than passing speculation, and Kevin Lucia clearly has a knack for writing creepy atmosphere into his stories.
Devourer of Souls appears to be an account of two stories within one book, though really it’s more like three stories. There are the two being recounted (see above) – one through a journal entry that is all that seems to remain of its writer, and the other through the recollection of one of the men reading it – and there’s the quieter background story of the narrator and his journal-finding friend, which frames the two. It’s that third story that really interested me, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The first of the stories is, to my mind, the stronger of the two. Sôphân is the written account by a man who’s gone missing of What Really Happened to a local boy who went missing years before. I won’t spoil it with detail, but the ‘confession’ (not a word chosen entirely randomly; the finder of the journal is a priest) both sheds light on one strange disappearance and simultaneously leaves a big old question mark hanging over the second – obviously, with its writer having gone mysteriously missing, there’s no actual resolution here. All we can do is wonder…
The second story, The Man In Yellow, has a bit more of the Lovecraft vibe about it. This time it’s more overt horror, a bit more on the side of shocking than subtle creeping, though it’s still effective. This one’s told by the priest, Father Ward, who finds the journal detailing the first story, and it ties the whole thing back into the third story in this book. The story of what these two men decide to do with what they know, and how they handle it.
Ha, you don’t think I’m going to give that away, do you? Nah.
But I will say that the overall story’s ending was a nice little thinker. There’s no dramatic posing of heroes here – though if you’ve taken that Stephen King comparison all the way to a conclusion you probably already guessed that. Kevin Lucia spins a couple of nicely creepy horror stories into a yarn that I’m still picking at and unraveling days after having finished the book. And that is a job well done. My only (small) complaint is a nitpick within the writing itself; there’s a bit of repetitive phrasing that kind of glared within the narrative, and that kind of thing tends to be a nuisance to me. All in all, though, it wasn’t bad enough to spoil my enjoyment completely. If you can overlook those little things, and you’re looking for good solid horror to enjoy, then I’d recommend this one, easy.