Author: John Danielle
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Book Description: From John Darnielle, the New York Times bestselling author and the singer-songwriter of the Mountain Goats, comes an epic, gripping novel about murder, truth, and the dangers of storytelling.
Gage Chandler is descended from kings. That’s what his mother always told him. Years later, he is a true crime writer, with one grisly success—and a movie adaptation—to his name, along with a series of subsequent less notable efforts. But now he is being offered the chance for the big break: to move into the house where a pair of briefly notorious murders occurred, apparently the work of disaffected teens during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Chandler finds himself in Milpitas, California, a small town whose name rings a bell––his closest childhood friend lived there, once upon a time. He begins his research with diligence and enthusiasm, but soon the story leads him into a puzzle he never expected—back into his own work and what it means, back to the very core of what he does and who he is.
Devil House is John Darnielle’s most ambitious work yet, a book that blurs the line between fact and fiction, that combines daring formal experimentation with a spellbinding tale of crime, writing, memory, and artistic obsession.
Rating: 3 Stars
Review: This is a very difficult book for me to review. I went into this book with a different expectation than I walked away with. Gage is a true crime writer. When he writes a book he immerses himself in the story, living in the town, even as far as buying the properties these crimes happened on. This is where he ends up in Milpitas, Ca home of the Devil House.
What I wanted to read was something like the movie Sinister starring Ethan Hawke. BTW…if you like a good horror flick and have not seen this, this is about at creepy as it comes. This is not the story we got. The author gives a non-linear story about Gage, of course the history of the crime, and other stories that he brings into this story that does not necessarily fit the narrative. Even more surprising he takes a surprise turn in the last section, that I am not sure worked.
This was a pretty dry book, and therefore making this very hard for me to review. While I was engaged in the book the entire time, it never got to a place where I wanted to be, just kind of ho, hum. Gage is a very interesting character, borderline obsessive at times, even goes as far as decorating the house to the look like the original house in the 1980’s. More than anything I wanted more about Gage than the actual premise of this book.
This book is intriguing at times, and might be the perfect book for a book club, because I think there just might be enough to discuss in group format. Just missed the mark a little for me on the high expectations I had for this book.
Thank you NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.