BEFORE THE DEVIL FELL by Neil Olson

BEFORE THE DEVIL FELL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A college professor returns to his hometown and confronts figurative and literal demons from his childhood in this modern-day ghost story.

The novel opens as Will Conner attends a faculty-student mixer in Manhattan and talks with his teaching assistant, Beth, about the return of some disturbing dreams he’s been having. The dreams contain flashbacks to a confusing night from his youth when his mother hosted a “spirit circle” in their home. Beth tries, unsuccessfully, to help Will understand the dreams. As Will walks home after the event, he receives a visit from an unearthly being, a demon or spirit, perhaps a hallucination, he’s not sure. He hurries the rest of the way to his apartment, where he is greeted by a ringing telephone and the news that his mother is in the hospital, unconscious. Will returns to his small New England hometown to care for his mother, who suffered a head injury. During his visit, he reconnects with a long list of characters from his childhood and tries to determine what happened on that fateful night from his youth that continues to haunt his dreams. Will begins to detect secrets about the people he grew up with and how those secrets may have impacted his own life. Yet, every time he moves closer to discovering the central mystery, another obstacle materializes to thwart his efforts and make him question his path. Written in a fast-paced, colloquial prose, the text will pull readers in right from the start. Drawing on New England’s historical connection to witchcraft and mob hysteria, the author brings to life contemporary covens and small-town reactions to the unexplainable. Despite the novel’s heavy emphasis on flashbacks and retelling of family folklore, which can feel overly convoluted, the author creates nuanced and realistic interpersonal relationships that lend much-needed grounding to this darkly supernatural story. Equal parts engaging and creepy, this twisty tale deftly examines how secrets and regret can continue to reverberate through generations.

A suspenseful story that examines how families haunt each other in life and death; possibly too creepy for late-night reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-335-21755-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2019




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