Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: The Devouring by Simon Holt

The Devouring (The Devouring, #1)Author: Simon Holt
Genre: Paranormal, Horror
Pages: 231
Published: September 1, 2008
Publisher: Little Brown
Rating: 4/5 Stars

"The Vours: Evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the winter solstice. When Reggie reads about the Vours in a mysterious old journal, she assumes they are just the musings of an anonymous lunatic. But when her little brother, Henry, begins to act strangely, it's clear that these creatures exist beyond a madwoman's imagination, and Reggie finds out what happens when fears come to life.
To save the people she loves, Reggie must learn to survive in a world of nightmares. Can she devour her own fears before they devour her?" ~Goodreads
 October was supposed to be a month of spooky reads.  I set it all up ahead of time and had everything planned out for maximum scariness.  Unfortunately, most of the books I read in October lacked in horror, gore and basic spine-tingliness.  That is, until I read The Devouring.  I picked it up on a whim from the bookstore.  I hadn't heard a lot about it but what I had heard had been positive so I decided to go for it.  I pushed the rest of the TBR pile aside and dug right in.  It was the best decision I could have made.  Simon Holt managed to take the concept of our own fear and use it against us in the best possible way.  The story was unpredictable, fun and absolutely terrifying.  It is a tale of how we let our own fear control us and hold us prisoner.  

  • Horror that is actually horrifying: I find that in a lot of YA horror there isn't much, well, horror.  This book had it all though.  It was both psychological and gory and it worked beautifully.  In case you don't believe me let me set the stage for you.  Killer, hatchet-handed clowns in a mirror maze.  I was beside myself at around 2 AM and couldn't shake the creepiness.  If clowns aren't really your thing, it also has spiders, zombies, ghosts, demon babies and possessed Christmas carolers.  If that isn't enough for you, then I can't make you happy.
  • Great protagonist: Reggie was great.  She's a teenage girl who's taking care of her little brother after her mom skips town.  She is incredibly loving and self-sacrificing but she's far from one-dimensional.  When called upon Regina Halloway is not someone you want to mess with.  She is tough as nails and more than willing to fight for the people she loves.
  • Wonderfully spooky imagery:  Holt creates a world that is instantly recognizable which is what makes it so terrifying.  He has a way of making the vours seem so realistic.  More like people with severe psychosis than actual monsters.  In the fearscape things get even creepier.  Holt's nightmare world is incredibly imaginative and the way he describes it is at once enticing and horrifying.
  • No cheesy romance (or any romance for that matter): I like a little romance in most books, but when I want to read really great horror the last thing on my mind is the awkwardness of first love.  It just doesn't usually add much to the plot.  In fact, most of the time it detracts from it and seems like a time-filler.  There is none of that in this book.  Reggie and Aaron are friends who are on a mission.  They don't have time to make out in the back seat or make googly eyes at one another.  There are ass kickings to be distributed.

  • Unanswered questions:  There were some things that went unanswered.  I was really hoping to find out more about Reggie and Henry's mom and what the deal with Eben was.  Fortunately there are two more books so I'm guessing these questions will be answered.  Not really counting this as a dislike since it's mainly just me being impatient.
  • Aaron could get a bit annoying:  I really liked Aaron, don't get me wrong, but sometime he was so obnoxious.  He was either playing captain obvious, being skeptical when there was clearly no more reason to be or generally offering up pretty useless information about 50% of the time.  However, he was pretty loveable and he did man up eventually so I'll give him that much.

I'm so happy that I decided to give this book a chance.  It was just the right mix of kooky and scary and it really helped me end the month with a bang.  I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy!

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