Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Daughters Unto Devils

Daughters Unto Devils
By Amy Lukavics
Harlequin Teen, 2015. 281 pages. Young Adult

After the terrors of last winter, sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner's life hasn't ever been the same. Not only did her family get snowed into their high mountain home last winter, but their pregnant mother fell deathly ill and gave birth to a blind/deaf daughter who's been nothing but a harbinger of more travails to come. Amanda's life is hard; but when she realizes she's pregnant with the postal boy's child, it becomes a nightmare.

Now winter is nigh again, and nobody's keen on another six months trapped in the cabin. The family loads up a covered wagon, intending to find an abandoned homestead on the prairie. Pa chooses a house that looks solid enough on the outside; but it's what's on the inside that counts. The family finds the home splattered with old gore. The floorboards are missing, ripped out for no apparent reason. And at night, Amanda can hear an eerie, keening baby's wail coming from inside the house.

When strange things start happening around the house, it becomes clear to Amanda that something's already possessed the land the Verners have taken as their own . . . and it isn't happy with the new neighbors.

This novel's often pitched as Little House on the Prairie meets Stephen King; and for the most part, it holds up to that praise. While slow to get started (there's a lot of information dump in the first few chapters), the images presented are certainly horrifying and stick with the reader long after the novel's done. Amanda's dedication to her family and her faith is admirable, and the deep physical/emotional claustrophobia Lukavics creates on the page is perhaps the most frightening aspect of the novel.

P.S. I'm not sure I'll ever get the image of the dead baby standing in the cornfield out of my head. Ugh.


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