Wednesday 28 October 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics.

Product details:  
Publisher: Simon & Schuster.
Paperback, 240 pages.
Release date: October 8th 2015.
Rating:  4 out of 5.
Ages: 14+.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 Sometimes I believe the baby will never stop crying.

Sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner fears she is losing her mind. When her family move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, Amanda hopes she can leave her haunting memories behind: of her sickly Ma giving birth to a terribly afflicted baby; of the cabin fever that claimed Amanda's sanity; of the boy who she has been meeting in secret...

But the Verners arrive on the prairie to find their new home soaked in blood. So much blood. And Amanda has heard stories - about men becoming unhinged and killing their families, about the land being tainted by wickedness. With guilty secrets weighing down on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or within her soul...

Little House on the Prairie…with demons.

I grew up on horror.  Stephen King is pretty much all I read as a teen, which made for some pretty dark dreams I can tell you! So, I’m always on the lookout for books and movies that might scare me.  I want to be scared. Weird, I know. Yet, since I’ve been blogging, I’ve noticed a lack of great horror in YA Fiction.  Sure, there are a couple of spooky titles that I add to my Halloween reading list every year, but I haven’t found anything that has really ever scared me into sleeping with the lights on.  That said, I don’t scare all that easily, and I won’t say that Daughters Unto Devils has given me any sleepless nights (yet!) What I will say is that Daughters unto Devils left me unsettled, it made me feel a little sick to my stomach more than once, (possibly linked to the fact that I’m a vegetarian, and if you are too, then I’m telling you now that this book is hard to take!) and it may have just left me with a lifelong fear of scarecrows. Because that was SICK. So yeah, no sleepless nights, but great horror visuals and a story that creeps up on you little by little, bit by bit, slowly, slowly, slowly, so that when the true horror of it all arrives, you’ll never see it coming.

Desperate to escape the impending harsh winter, sixteen year old Amanda Verner and her family leave their small mountain cabin in order to find a new life on the prairie, where the weather is warmer, and where Amanda’s father has been assured that he can find spacious accommodation for his family. This much is true.  On arrival, the family immediately happen upon a far-more-spacious-than-their-cabin abandoned house which is perfect for their needs. The only downside: the house – from ceiling, to floor – is dressed in blood. Do you, A – Decide that something very bad must have happened here and go on your merry way? B – Decide that the house is too good an opportunity to be missed – and hey, it’s just a little blood, right? No big deal.  Amanda’s father chooses B. And from this point on, you know that this particular prairie tale won’t end in a happy ever after.

But why is this family so desperate to settle on this blood-soaked prairie? Why are they so desperate to escape another winter in their little cabin? That’s a story for another day. All I’ll say is that there’s more to Daughters Unto Devils than first meets the eye. Because something happened in that little mountain cabin, something that left all the family a little unsettled, a little wary of each other – and especially wary of Amanda. Amanda is a girl with a lot of secrets; she has demons that haunt her with dark thoughts in which she wishes death on her baby sister. Her biggest secret of all: Amanda is pregnant. And she fears she’s losing her mind.

With an ominous sense of foreboding throughout, a good dose of icky, icky, horror, and an ending that will leave you with shivers down your spine (or a great big smile on your face if you’re me), Daughters Unto Devils makes for a great Halloween read.  Shades of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist abound in the demons that haunt Amanda’s dreams, and in its prairie setting, Lukavics has created a world where nobody hears you scream.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Daughters Unto Devils – it’s a quick read, and I read it pretty much in one sitting. If I have one major qualm about this one, I think the lack of any background explanation as to what exactly is happening on the prairie or why will frustrate a lot of readers. You can draw your own conclusions, of course – and you’ll have to. Ambiguous endings can work, but there is a whole lot more to this book that is left completely unexplained, and while this may play into prairie folklore and add to the horror of this tale, I, for one, wanted some answers.

Add it to your Halloween reading list – and prepare to be scared!


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