Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Devouring by Simon Holt

First published in 2008.

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 people she loves, Reggie must learn to survive in a world of nightmares. Can she devour her own fears before they devour her?
(book flap blurb)

There's nothing like a good spooking to fall asleep too. Yeah, this one wigged me out a little bit, especially since I found myself reading it right before I went to sleep. Let me tell you, what an awesome departure this book is from all the other so-called "horror" novels in the YA section now. Gone, it seems, are the days of Christopher Pike and RL Stine's Fear Street and in are the days of sparkling vampire boyfriends and prep schools with fangs. What happened to the horror?

Holt definitely brought it back with this book. The transformation of an eight-year-old boy into this stone-cold sociopath was just downright creepy. He wasn't a little boy anymore. You could tell just by the way he talked. He didn't give a shit about anything except making other people suffer. And when the woman Reggie found in her house was described, the image that sank into my head was tough to get out. This face that was just pure terror, with a jaw gaping open as if she died as she was screaming. *shudder*

And the description of the Vours, as this black mist. You see it a lot in movies now, as if it's turned into this universal signifier of a malignant entity. But how it writhed about when it was trapped, how it possessed Henry, what it looked like when Reggie was able to overcome it. Blech!

The fearscape was a pretty gruesome place. Holt definitely did not tread lightly in that department. With the kids at the carnival trying to burst open the heads of other children in that water pistol/balloon popping game, the hall of mirrors, that psychotic clown . . . gah! I fucking hate clowns. Saw Killer Klowns from Outter Space when I was about 7 or 8. Yeah, the movie's cheese, but not where you're that young. Destroyed clowns for me. That psycho clown so would not have survived that fearscape if I were in it. I would have become his nightmare and would have killed him with his own hatchet hand. *shudder*

The feeling of not being able to escape that fearscape was in and of itself frightening. It's like a dream you can't wake up from. You know it's not real but no matter how many times you blink your eyes, you're still in that dream when all you want to do is come out of it. If that doesn't get your heart beating faster, I don't know what will.

The reason why I do Freaky Fridays is because I miss YA horror like this. It's just not around anymore because the market isn't calling for it right now. If I could write it, I would and do my damndest to get it published just to add to the something different as opposed to just adding to the pile. I love horror. I love being scared and tweaking myself out. I don't know why. The adrenaline, I guess. I think that's one of the reasons why I loved this book. There's no romance, no glittering, no high school drama, no bratty rich kids with fangs. It's just straight horror, as it should be. God I love it.


Reverie said...

I loved this book because of the great horror aspect. Recently I read Bad Girls Dont Die. Try it. Its pretty creepy too. But it is hard to find a really good creepy book now a days.I keep asking around and there's just not much out there to rec.

Either way I cannot wait for Soulstice.

Barbara said...

As a good bookslut I put it on hold at the library since it sounds really good so I'm looking forward to it.

Donna (Bites) said...

Rev, I'm starting to revert back to the older books. Nothing beats them!

Barb, 10 points for the use of the word "bookslut."

Cindy said...

I can't wait to pick this up, I want just horror too :)

Reverie said...

let me know what good horror books you find. would love to read something deliciously creepy

Steph Su said...

Ooh nice, 4.5 bites? I can't wait to start reading it!

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