Another creepy gothic mystery today. It seems to me that gothic is trending right now. Just within the last couple months we’ve reviewed The Distant Hours, The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead, and Bent Road.
Justin Evans offers forbidden romance, a boarding school setting, murder, ghosts, secrets, and Lord Byron. Harper dubs it “Joe Hill’s Horns meets Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.”
There is an audiobook in the works. Evans gushed charmingly on his blog, in a post titled “Voldemort Does My Audio,” when he learned that Christian Coulson would be narrating the recording. Christian Coulson played Tom Riddle in the Harry Potter movies, and evidently Evans is a huge Harry Potter fan.
Next, the tale of three covers. First, the British hardcover:
I can see how the ARC cover is a bit deceptive (too devilish), and I do like the boarding school gates. The little bit of red in the UK version helps it pop, and marks the book as a murder mystery. Then again, the title is The WHITE Devil. Perhaps the U.S. cover designer is a purist.
EVANS, Justin. The White Devil. 384p. Harper. 2011. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0061728273. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Andrew is a typical American 17-year-old who makes a serious error in judgment; as a result, his father sends him to Harrow, the famed British boarding school, in a last-ditch effort to get him into a decent college. Unfortunately, trouble seems to have followed him across the Atlantic. Andrew finds it difficult to make friends, classes aren’t like what they were back home, and then there’s the small matter of Theo. Theo was Andrew’s only friend before he was murdered and Andrew saw the killer. Except there’s no one on campus who matches the description and there’s no evidence that the person he saw exists. As Andrew tries to learn the Harrow way, he’s visited by a pale, nearly albino boy who disturbs his sleep and haunts his waking hours. Andrew is the spitting image of a former Harrow student, George Gordon Byron (yes, that Byron, the “mad, bad and dangerous to know” poet Lord) and something, or someone, from his past is seeking revenge. Meanwhile, the school’s poet-in-residence is producing a play about Byron, starring Andrew. As he spirals further into Byron’s world, Andrew’s mental and physical health starts to suffer. The book’s ending delivers a twist that few readers will see coming, an epilogue that doesn’t disappoint. This blend of historical fiction, using what is known of Byron’s youth and time at Harrow, and realism, with Andrew trying to fit into a culture not his own, will interest teens. The ghost story may inspire them to learn more about Byron’s life if it doesn’t fully creep them out.–Laura Pearle, Hackley School, Tarrytown, NY