Title: The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Horror, Supernatural
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
An unforgettable horror novel from bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn—hailed as a writer of “some of the most promising horror I’ve encountered in years” (New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire)—in which a small-town boy investigates the mysterious disappearance of his cousin and uncovers a terrifying secret kept hidden for years.
Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.
That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.
With a possibly unreliable narrator, supernatural elements and a mysterious disappearance of a twelve year boy, The Devil Crept In is the latest eerie and somewhat creepy horror novel by Ania Ahlborn.
Ten year old Stevie Clark is best friends with his twelve year old cousin Jude Brighton and when Jude goes missing, he is the only person in town who takes his disappearance seriously. Due to his stutter and overactive imagination, Stevie is a bit of a social pariah in town which makes his friendship with Jude that much more important to him. Everyone in town considers Jude a troublemaker so it is little surprise that the general consensus is he has run away from home. Stevie knows without a doubt that his cousin would never voluntarily abandon him, so Stevie gathers his courage to help search for Jude. A grisly discovery indicates Jude might be the victim of foul play so Stevie decides to investigate his best friend’s disappearance in earnest. Deciding to venture to the spooky house that Jude is so fascinated with, Stevie is frightened by what he sees, but Jude’s sudden reappearance puts an end to any further investigation. At first relieved his best friend has returned unharmed, Stevie becomes frightened by the differences he notices in Jude. Although no one seems aware that anything is amiss, Stevie is determined to understand what happened to Jude in the woods but will anyone believe him once he uncovers the truth?
Told in three parts, part one delves into Jude and Stevie’s somewhat tragic childhoods and follows Jude’s disappearance and Stevie’s search for his cousin. Stevie is an incredibly sympathetic ten year old boy but his various problems make him an unreliable narrator. At one time a happy, normal child, he inexplicably began stuttering and experiencing night terrors and hallucinations. His home life worsened dramatically following his father’s abandonment and his mom’s involvement with an abusive and volatile man who does not hesitate to mete out corporal punishment. Although always rambunctious, Jude essentially turned into a surly juvenile delinquent after this father’s death. The two boys are now inseparable and Stevie is quite forgiving after he occasionally becomes the object of Jude’s mean streak.
The second part of the story provides the backstory of Rosamund “Rosie” Aleksander, an emotionally damaged recluse once married to a local doctor. Rosie is inconsolable after a tragic loss and her attempt to escape her pain leads her to a stranger and a mysterious retreat. Returning to her beautiful home in the woods, Rosie’s deepest wish comes true but in a particularly cruel twist of fate, her dream soon turns into a horrific nightmare that tests her deepest bond.
Part three is where the two storylines come together with a terrifying supernatural twist that will put even the most ardent horror fan on the edge of their seat when evil is unleashed in the aftermath of Jude’s disappearance. Stevie finally uncovers the ghastly secret about the strange occurrences that have happened in and around town over the last several years. Just as he is piecing together the events that have plagued the town, Stevie also learns the stunning truth about what happened to Jude and in the aftermath of his discoveries, his life goes in a very shocking direction.
Although initially a little slow-paced, The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn catapults to an adrenaline filled and sinister conclusion. An imaginative and suspense-laden novel that I highly recommend to fans of the horror genre.