This review initially appeared on http://www.deadheadreviews.com.
Give us that old-time religion.
Oddly enough, I have never read cult horror before; at least, nothing of which comes to mind. It’s always been a genre that terrified me. I remember trying to watch a movie about it once, but I turned it off in its beginning when some kids got sacrificed. I don’t do well with such things. And in on that note, if Devil’s Creek is ever made into a movie, I will have to avoid it! If true to the book, the adaptation would traumatize me, I’m sure.
This is one of those novels that left me frequently unsettled and on edge, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Yes, put a child in danger and I’ll be anxious; otherwise, you’ll have some serious work ahead of you in trying to scare me. That being said, Devil’s Creek scared me. The beginning of this novel had me as white-knuckled as I can get in reading, and it sickened me plenty in its final hundred or so pages.
I found that reading Devil’s Creek reminded me of a Stephen King epic at times. There are a lot of characters – enough so, that I would actually lose track of who was who at times – and a whole town in observation, with interlocking pasts and presents. This is also a fairly large novel; if you were to go by word count and format it like a typical mainstream print, it’s equivalent to five or six hundred pages of content (and heavy content, at that). But, despite its size, Devil’s Creek held my attention throughout. I was quickly invested in the story and how things would go down, even if I couldn’t latch onto any particular characters.
Here are the basics: A death cult comes to its end in ’83 when its church burns down and the congregation commits mass suicide. A group of grandparents that abandoned the congregation prior to the event return that night to save their grandchildren just in time. These survivors become known as the Stauford Six. Some grow up to do well, others do not. I will not go into detail, but they’re a varied cast. Fast forward some thirty years, and the death cult preacher returns from his grave to infect the people of Stauford and rebuild his Holy Voices church. From here, things get increasingly dark and creepy. This book has a high body count, and is thoroughly gruesome to its end.
Devil’s Creek was a fantastic read. I did have some trouble with keeping track of secondary characters, and the ending didn’t seem climatic enough for what I’d expected, but this large novel continuously dug its claws into me. Though this was my first time reading Todd Keisling, it will not be my last. He is an expert writer and crafter of the disturbing; Devil’s Creek will give you nightmares with ease. And you will make double sure never to eat worms again.