THE DEVIL’S MISTRESS – BY DAVID BARCLAY
Published by Silver Shamrock Publishing / Available March 2021
Verdict: 4.25 out of 5
Overview: It’s 1705. Isabella Ashford has been accused of murder. The town of Blackfriar says she’s been frequenting the woods and consorting with the devil. They say she’s become a witch. But the truth is Isabella just wanted to save her father and escape a bad marriage. It all begins with a trip to the local enchantress…
The Good: The Devil’s Mistress moves quickly. There’s plenty of excitement and horror along the way, especially in the electrifying second half. The writing and narrative are also well-executed. Your emotions will be stoked time and again, that’s for sure. The Devil’s Mistress is the kind of novella you’ll want to finish in a singular sitting.
The Bad: Mostly in the beginning of the book, it seems that the chapter breaks are brought about too often and without need. But mostly, I was annoyed that the conversation between Isabella and the enchantress didn’t appear to yield anything at all. Isabella returns home with a mindset that things have been changed for the better, but I didn’t see any evidence of that. I felt like I missed something in the beginning, something that was fooling Isabella into thinking the enchantress had helped her in any way whatsoever. As such, there was a nagging sense in the back of my head for the first half of the book as I continued to ask myself, “Why does Isabella believe her wishes have been granted?”
The Takeaway: The Devil’s Mistress doesn’t skip any opportunities to horrify and disgust you with the behavior of Blackfriar. Whether Isabella’s vile fiance or the cruel priest make you the angriest, Barclay does an excellent job in making you want blood to flow from this town. Though The Devil’s Mistress will enrage and horrify you, it will also cast a bit of a dark spell along the way. One that makes you enjoy the whole damn ride.
File Under: Witches … 1700s … Small town horror … Curses
Also See: The Maker’s Box
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