Author: Simon Holt
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
Published Date: September 2008
Price: Amazon ($7.99)
When Reggie finds an old journal and reads about the Vours, supernatural creatures who feast on fear and attack on the eve of the winter solstice, she assumes they are just the musings of some lunatic author. But soon, they become a terrifying reality when she begins to suspect that her timid younger brother might be one of their victims.
Risking her life and her sanity, Reggie enters a living nightmare to save the people she loves. Can she devour own her fears before they devour her?
Bone-chilling, terrifying, thrilling...what are you waiting for?
Before I begin my review, I need to develop my “position” on horror books and movies. I probably am on the different end of the spectrum of horror tolerance than others. Last summer at a party, someone decided to bring The Grudge 3 and the horror just didn't end there for me. Let’s just say, I couldn’t practice the violin in the dark basement without seeing hallucinations of the bloody girl.
I started The Devouring around the Winter Solstice at 12 AM (while procrastinating on homework). I couldn’t sleep that whole night as the Vours gave me nightmares, and I couldn’t even stand looking out in the dark expanse outside my window. Reggie, a horror fan, tells her younger brother, Henry, the story of the Vours. Like many other protagonists in horror movies, she doesn’t realize the reality behind the story until it is too late, when the Vours actually take control of Henry and create him into a monster.
The fearscape and “Henry’s” chilling tone, which the Vour creates a perfect, but cracked image of an innocent child, makes the reader more disgusted and scared. Holt’s horrific descriptions when he descries the Vour's manipulation of the fears make you almost feel it yourself. I personally thought Henry’s fearscape was gory and bloody, reminding me of Saw (even though I’ve personally never watched it). However, the horror of the gruesome hallucinations starts to recede once the reader gets accustomed to it. I wished there was a more psychological terror to the book, creating suspense for the readers. Movies like The Ring (watched 20 minutes of it and freaked out) or Paranormal Activity (never watched it, but heard a lot about it) base its success on the unknown evil, the suspense in which you can’t control what happens to you and just has to wait and see how the higher powers will manipulate fate. After Reggie finds more about the Vours and she learns how to play with them, I got bored by it and the ending was too predictable.
I also thought character development was much needed, since the reader should experience the same fear as the protagonist. For example, even though I knew Reggie is a horror fan, I thought she overcame her fears way too quickly making her more like Superwoman who comes to rescue the day. I also thought Reggie’s personality isn’t delved into too much, in which all the readers know about is she likes good-looking guys, even if they are jerks (*cough cough* Quinn) and cares for her brother deeply. On the other hand, I thought Henry’s insecurity and fear is crafted very well since I felt sympathy and sadness for Henry’s sufferings.
The cover is so pretty with the purple smoke and the contrast against the black backdrop and Reggie’s pale skin. It portrays the horror aspect of the novel well, especially with the smudged mascara.
The Devouring will make you stay up at night, just staring out the window and planning to hide under your blankets during Sorry Night so be prepared to face your fear. The unique premise of the book, in which Vours take over one’s body and uses it as a puppet, begins the series well by starting with an innocent, naïve boy, by playing the sympathy card as you wonder how a boy can live their fears everyday. Even though the characters could be developed better to create more of a connection between the readers, the plot balanced it out. I already have its sequel, The Soulstice, so I cannot wait to start it.