Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Devouring by Simon Holt

Title: The Devouring 
Author: Simon Holt
Publisher: Little, Brown
Paperback, 231 pages
Date Published: September 1, 2008

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
When Reggie finds an old journal and reads about the Vours, supernatural creatures who feast on fear and attack on the eve of the winter solstice, she assumes they are just the musings of some lunatic author. But soon, they become a terrifying reality when she begins to suspect that her timid younger brother might be one of their victims.

Risking her life and her sanity, Reggie enters a living nightmare to save the people she loves. Can she devour own her fears before they devour her?

Bone-chilling, terrifying, thrilling...what are you waiting for?

Sorry Night comes but once a year and when Reggie discovers a strange journal describing monstrous beings called Vours that steal the bodies of the fearful on that night, she can’t wait to scare herself. Reggie and her best friend Aaron have a fearful night, but it’s Reggie’s 8 year-old brother Henry who is really terrified. Henry believes in the Vours and that belief gives them power. Henry’s fear, combined with Sorry Night, results in Reggie realizing that some monsters are real. And the Vours have taken her brother. Reggie lives for horror, but what happens when the horror becomes real life and Reggie must fight her deepest fears to save the person she loves most?

Reggie is a horror movie buff with an incredible love for her younger brother Henry. She is only 15, but after her mother walks out on her family, Reggie basically becomes Henry’s mom. She does everything a mother and housewife would do, while attempting to maintain her own identity and be a teenager. There are some great scenes where Reggie’s frustrations boil over and she just explodes at her dad. The responsibility that is thrust at Reggie is too much for such a young girl to handle. Reggie is angry at her mother for leaving, but at the same time, she is absolutely desperate for her to return. Everyday, Reggie cries in the shower because she has to put on a brave face and be the strong one for Henry. Her only reprieve and outlet for a normal teenage life, comes in the form of Reggie’s best friend Aaron. Aaron is a caffeine junkie who also has a love for anything to do with horror. They watch the movies, read the books, and their self-declared geekdom works for them. Together, they make quite the team and when they think they can save Henry from the Vour who has his body, Reggie’s bravery and Aaron’s wits are all they have to depend on.

The Vours have the ability to take over the body of the most fearful people. Henry is a naturally skittish child, so when Reggie reads from the journal, he is 100% convinced that Vours are real. The day after Sorry Night, Henry is no longer the sweet child that he once was and it soon becomes clear that he has been taken over. The Vours are made of smoke and cannot stand the cold. They prey on a person’s deepest, darkest fears and once they have you, your soul could be lost forever. Reggie is able to connect with Henry’s soul through his body and she is thrust into his most potent fears. This place is called a fearscape and it could very well hold the secrets to saving Henry.

The Devouring seems to have gotten a lot of mixed reviews and I began reading it with no expectations at all. Let me just say that I was amazed. Simon Holt has created a fearful, bone-chilling story that could easily become a terrifying horror film. It also happens to have what may be the best prologue I have ever read. I was instantly sucked into the story and there was no letting up. The story is based on fear and supernatural creatures that lurk in the night, but it also focuses on the real, human issues that Reggie faces without her mother. Both Reggie and Henry adored their mother and without her, they depend on each other. Their devotion and love for one another is so passionate and true. Reggie would do anything to save her brother because she loves him.

At the heart, The Devouring is a blood-curdling YA horror novel. The story is quite graphic and that may turn many readers off, but it works so well here. The gore and the blood aren’t overdone and they help to create a perfectly creepy atmosphere that will have you turning on every light and looking under the bed. The Devouring is a chilling tale with a piercing cold that tears the skin and penetrates the heart. This is a horror story and it will shake you to the core and make you ask, ‘what am I really afraid of?’

Just a side note: This is the first in a series, so the ending is left open for more.

Opening line (from Prologue): On Sorry Night, just a few days before Christmas, you have to snuff the lamps, douse the flames in the fireplace, and spend the night in the cold and dark. ~ pg. 1

Opening lines (from Chapter 1): “Stop Reggie!” Henry barked from beneath his quilt. “Don’t read anymore!”

Favorite lines: “Because if you bury your nose deep and breathe through the life of a rose, through the flesh and the earth and the beauty, you smell the death inside…It doesn’t think, not like humans, but it feels. And it fears. A rose’s perfume is the terror of its own approaching death.” ~ pg. 201
Definitely a 4.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.


Stacy (Wicked Walker) said...

i have this arc but haven't read it yet...sounds like i need to read it soon!

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

I really enjoyed this one. I haven't gotten the chance to read the sequel yet, but I can't wait. Thanks for the review! :)

Jake Kirk @ Teens Read And Write said...

I would have passed this off as another girl read - for Alyssa - but with it being a great horror book - which I love - I'll give this one a try. Thanks for the review!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

Stacy - You should really take some time to read it. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy it so much.

Natalie - I'm happy you had the chance to read it and enjoyed it as well. I just finished the sequel and I hope to post the review next week.

Jake - This is definitely not just a girl's book. Alyssa would probably enjoy it, but there's no real romance in it and boys could easily enjoy it as well.

Chutzpah said...

Ohhh I want to read this. So starved for horror these days. Or maybe I'm just starved reading-wise in general! Great review!

Anonymous said...

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I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!


Small Review said...

Great review! I could totally see this book as a movie. I had forgotten about the prologue, but you're right, it was so creepy and awesome! My favorite scene was when Reggie goes to the house and discovers what's in the basement. I was so frightened!

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