Devil’s Bait – Debbie Boek
Not to be cliché about linking books, but this is Amityville Horror meets Supernatural. It is a book of 2 parts, the horror part, and the demon-busting, love interest, drama part.
Emma and Jeremy Draper have just bought their dream house in a rural town, just beyond the commuter belt, so Jeremy needs to take an apartment in the city during his working week. They have 2 young boys, Collin and James, and a 17-year-old daughter Shelly, who is not impressed being moved from all her friends in the city.
As Emma starts unpacking and placing items around the house she starts questioning herself when they’re found in other places and wondering if others have moved them. The interweaving of house-move commotion and unusual happenings is very well captured and it gradually ramps up the tension and suspense, as the family start to realise that something just isn’t right. A dark, paranormal atmosphere starts to descend on the story and the family begin noticing an ethereal presence, the disgusting smells, the sound of footsteps, the cold draught, and then the movement of objects and doors. With Jeremy in the city most of the week, he believes it to be an overactive imagination mixed with coincidence. This build-up of tension is very well delivered as we move towards an emotional explosion of anger, despair and fear. Jeremy is eventually convinced to hire paranormal investigators when an incident causes him to start believing.
Venetia, is a paranormal investigator, hired to dispossess spirits and ghosts, and along with a colleague, makes 2 attempts at expelling any dark forces, but finally succumbs to the demonic terror she experiences. When Emma tries to get her back a third time, she states
“If there is something in your house, it is stronger than anything that I’ve ever encountered. Maybe a priest could help. I don’t really know what to tell you at this point. Look, I have to run, good luck.”
At a particularly aggressive incident where Shelly and Emma are both attacked, they all run from the house and travel to the city to stay with Jeremy, only to find he’s seeking his own comfort with his female “friend”. Heartbroken Emma leaves the children with Jeremy and returns to a neighbour’s house, trying to figure out her next move.
At this point, Scott and Tim Devereaux, show up to help eliminate the powerful paranormal forces. They know much more about this situation than Emma could have comprehended. It’s almost as though they have spent a lifetime chasing demons, poltergeists and ghosts. There is a distinct change of mood in the story as a love interest develops between Emma and Scott, with Tim looking on furious that Scott is less focused on the serious job at hand. The horror dissipates to a large extent, as it feels more like Supernatural with Dean and Sam Winchester and a dramatic rollick through demonic confrontations and exorcisms.
I loved both parts of the story as they were very well written and the gradual development of the paranormal forces was extremely well done. It did, however, feel disjointed, not from the storyline perspective, but from the mood and atmosphere, as there was a shift from horror to dramatic suspense. In horror stories, if you let the reader off the hook, the taut hold of terror is relaxed and the impact is gone.
I would like to thank Debbie Boek for providing me with a copy of Devil’s Bait in return for an honest review.