Published by Harlequin Teen on September 29th, 2015
Genres: horror, historical
Source: Publisher, Blog Tour
When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner's family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.
When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn't right on the prairie. She's heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.
Oh my god. If you guys are looking for the perfect, truly terrifying spooky read for Halloween, this is hands-down the way to go. Daughters Unto Devils far exceeded my expectations on the horror factor and I cannot recommend this book enough.
Daughters Unto Devils opens up with a bang – quite literally. Amanda has been sexually involved with a boy named Henry, but that all comes screeching to a halt when she tells him she’s pregnant. Faster than should be humanly possibly, Henry is clothed and on the back of horse, riding away, proving that boys are shit no matter where you are or what time period it is. What follows is a nightmare for Amanda: she is with child out of wedlock which is clearly a big no-no in this historical, religious society, and on top of that, she and her family are making the trek down the mountain and across the prairies in search of a home big enough to accommodate their already huge family. Amanda is plagued with the horrifying memories of the previous winter as well as sinner’s guilt for her trysts with Henry. All of this makes for an excellent, atmospheric inner monologue. Amanda’s dread is clearly building up to something larger and scarier, and that mounting fear grows more and more with the turn of each page.
The sense of impending doom really propelled the story further for me. The obsessive thoughts swirling through Amanda’s head – and her inability to fully trust her own mind – sealed the deal. More than jump scares and gore, a horror novel has to bring it when it comes to tone and mood. Amy Lukavics wrote in a blog post about choosing the right words and also carefully steering the inner thoughts of the main character in a way that always compelled the reader to sit on the edge of their seat. She totally succeeded in this; I could not turn the pages fast enough. It is 5am right now – I finished this book about an hour ago and the feeling of paranoia and horror is still with me. I really wish I had read this in the daylight!
Amanda comes from a big family and I liked each of the characters. She has four younger siblings: Emily, who is closest to her in age; Joanna and Charles who are also close in age and are the best of friends; and Hannah, a one year old baby who is both blind and deaf. The character that I was most interested in besides Amanda and Emily, who are the stars of the show, was Pa. He was a big fan of living in complete denial, which I found hilarious because, yeah, my dad is like that too. Pa would not back down from any challenge, though, which I found admirable. He moved his seven person family with not much more than a wagon full of dried meats and fruits, and basically had to rebuild the cabin they found. He saw that bloody, gory house and did not give a single f – he would make it work. And instead of lamenting Hannah’s predicament, he thanked God every day for bringing her to his family. He was quiet, in the background for mostly all of this book, and he did hit one of the kids (though I mostly blame than on the Amityville-ness of the entire thing) so he wasn’t all good. But he was a different sort of character you don’t see often.
My chief complaint about Daughters Unto Devils was just a sense of detachment from the main character. For long stretches of paragraphs (sometimes pages) she would be talking about what was happening around her – what each character was doing, what the surroundings were, what was going on. So it was strange to get an “I” or “me” seemingly out of nowhere to remind you that this was written in first person. The narration also had a tendency of getting wordy, but I think that was mostly due to the way the characters talked, molded by their setting and time period.
I’m not joking when I say Daughters Unto Devils is terrifying. I had chills running up and down my spine, the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck standing at full attention. This book goes to dark, scary places, and even the slightest bumps around the house set me on edge. And don’t take this lightly: I am a HUGE horror movie fan, and I’m really not a very big wimp at all. But Daughters Unto Devils one hundred percent came through, scaring me so much that I am most definitely sleeping with the light on tonight.
about the author
Ever since she was little, Amy was especially intrigued by horror books and movies. Raised in a small mountain town in Arizona, she sustained herself on a steady diet of Goosebumps, Fear Street, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books before discovering Stephen King in her mother’s bookshelf.
Amy lives with her husband, their two precious squidlings, and an old gentleman cat by the name of Frodo. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and playing games across many platforms.