Review--The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood

Plenty of legends surround the infamous Boulder House in Whispering Bluffs, Wisconsin, but nobody takes them seriously. Certainly nobody believes that the original owner, Maxwell Cartwright Jr., cursed its construction—or that a murder of crows died upon its completion, their carcasses turning the land black. If anyone did believe it all, there’s no way River Red High would offer a field trip there for the senior class.

Five very different seniors on the trip—Violet, Paul, Ashley, Dylan, and Gretchen—have reasons beyond school spirit for not ditching the trip. When they’re separated from the group, they discover that what lies within Boulder House is far more horrifying than any local folklore. To survive, they’ll have to band together in ways they never could have imagined and ultimately confront the truths of their darkest selves.





I went into M.C. Atwood’s debut, The Devils You Know, expecting a creepy read to have me jumping at every noise. While there is a pretty decent creep factor the book failed to keep my attention. True, there were moments where I was hooked but then there were moments where I was rolling my eyes, and those moments far outweighed the rest.

In this book we have five points of view, all teenagers from different walks of life. There’s the vapid popular girl, the shy girl no one notices, the Goth boy, the athlete boy, and then the girl with an attitude. It’s like The Breakfast Club in that sense, yet here, everyone has their own deeply hidden secret. These five teens go on a field trip in order to get out of finals for school and it’s at a local haunted house, of sorts. The house is a museum of the bizarre, there are rooms with hundreds of dolls, its own little town like thing, it’s weird. It reminded me of our local Magic House which is essentially a HUGE house of things to explore, learn, create, and play. But this house, was definitely not that house!

Truly, this has all the makings for a great horror story, but what basically had me wanting to throw the book across the room was the language. It felt like I was reading a really bad 90s teen horror movie in terms of language. I was half expecting someone, particularly Dylan, to say, ‘that’s wiggedy wiggedy whack!’ a phrase I can’t even spell because of its outrageousness and outright corniness. Some of the things they say are just so out there, I know that no one was saying these kinds of things when I was a teenager, so I doubt the teens of 2017 are saying it either. I mean I get that this is a young adult novel, but the slang was just so ridiculous. I mean, I hardly used slang like this growing up. It’s almost just too cliché. This seriously felt like 90s teen horror movie material, and maybe that was Atwood’s intended goal. It just didn’t click with me.

Outside of that…this wasn’t that bad a novel. True I started skimming some things because the language was driving me bonkers. But the creepiness was pretty creepy. I mean the dolls are freaking running around the house and attacking people! And they just STARE at you! Totally creepy!! The characters are getting hurt really bad, blood and guts bad. It starts to make you wonder if all of them will survive.

There is one thing that still doesn’t make sense to me and it was the so-called demon who was holding them prisoner and wanting them to work together to get out of the house alive! Should they fail, they would be a part of his morbid and gruesome collection forever. My question is WHY? What is the point of this? The demon like dude didn’t make sense to me. I get the need for a villain giving them a purpose and a reason to fight, but seriously, what was the demon’s motives in all this? He really just wanted to grow his collection?

Then there are these excerpts from a “historical text” that explain the history of the house and the madman behind it. It helps to provide more background information on this house but the ghost story of the house wasn’t ever really explained. Again, maybe there wasn’t a ghost story at all, but there were some scary things happening in this house, you can’t tell me there were no legends about them.

Another thing that continued to confuse me was that this trip to the house was meant as a field trip. There are other students and a teacher somewhere around here, but only these five teens are put through horror after horror. I didn’t understand where the rest of the group suddenly went and what they were doing. The ending only prove to further confuse me on this matter. It was definitely a WTF moment.

Sadly, The Devils You Know was not at all what I was hoping for. Not only did I feel some of the language was clichéd, it was also just overdone; but there were too many unanswered questions. Looking back, I think what was the point of all that? Basically, what the characters just went through, what was the point, the goal, the lesson? I found I could not think of an answer and I feel that no matter what book you read, that question should always be answered. The creep factor to this one was pretty good, but sadly not even that could keep me hooked into the story.


Overall Rating 2/5 stars




 

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm. These do sound like frustrating issues. I wonder if maybe the author is just super out of touch with teens and so they threw in some random slang they figured teens must use? That would also bother me wondering where the rest of the class was.

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