The White Devil by Justin Evans – Book Review

The White Devil by Justin Evans
Published by Harper Books, an imprint of HarperCollins

Andrew Taylor is on his last chance. After getting in trouble time and time again back at home, Andrew has been shipped overseas to Harrow School in London, with the promise that if he steps out of line again, he will be disowned. It becomes obvious very quickly that Andrew can’t escape trouble, when students begin dying and getting desperately ill. Somehow this is all linked to Andrew, and the fact that he is a spitting image of the school’s most famous student – Lord Byron. Suddenly Andrew must court the very trouble he was hoping to avoid to solve the mystery of Lord Byron’s past and figure out how to save his own life in the present.

Evans has written a spooky and engaging story. The way he melds Byron’s story with Andrew’s is smooth and effortless, bringing the past into the present in a truly horrifying way.  I love the idea that it is only by solving the mysteries of history that Andrew can save himself, it brings to life the ways in which the past influences our lives today – even if the past is not typically so visceral, in more ways than one. Byron is not a literary figure I know much about, but The White Devil inspired me to learn more about him and even try his work (although I only made it about a page into Childe Harold when I did try).

Any book that can alternately terrify me and interest me in literary history is a winner no matter how you slice it. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Trespass by Rose Tremain – Audiobook Review

Trespass by Rose Tremain, narrated by Juliet Stevenson
Published in audio by AudioGo, published in print by W. W. Norton & Co

Synopsis:

We know the ways that our pasts, flaws, and foibles change the courses of our own lives, but perhaps we think little about the ways in which they can influence, and even devastate the lives of others, even when our paths cross only tangentially. Such is the case when two pairs of siblings, both with painful and damaging pasts happen to have their lives intersect in the south of France. Veronica and her lover, Kitty, have been living in Cévennes for years, but their simple domestic life of painting and gardening is disrupted when Veronica’s brother Anthony, who is having financial troubles in England, comes down to stay. When he decides he would like to relocate to France, tensions get even higher. Equally fraught is the relationship between Audrun and Aramon, natives of France. Their childhood was, shall we say, less than ideal after the death of their mother, and their interactions grow even more tense after Aramon declares his intention to sell their family home. With Anthony looking to buy and Aramon to sell, it is only to be expected that their paths should cross, but the results of that crossing are decidedly atypical.

Thoughts on the story:

Although not exactly a mystery, Tremain tells a suspenseful yet character-driven story in “Trespass.” We know from the opening scene that something terrible has happened, although what exactly that is will only slowly become apparent over the course of the book. It is a complex tale, but not overly so. The pacing, plotting, and prose were all extremely well handled, but the real highlight of the book was the character development. Not a single one of the characters in “Trespass” was a particularly likable human being. They were selfish, self-involved, rude, snobby, and occasionally abusive. In such a psychological, character-driven novel such as this, that can be quite a problem. However, they were so realistically and tragically flawed, that their petty incivilities failed to be a turn-off. Instead, the reader is drawn into their story to find out exactly what bad thing happened, and why.

Thoughts on the audio production:

At the beginning of “Trespass,” I had a bit of a hard time keeping all of the characters straight in audio, because Tremain included a number of relatively short scenes with each of them. I must say, I really wasn’t sure what was going on – actually, I’m not sure I would have been with print, either – but it didn’t matter one bit, because of Juliet Stevenson’s amazing narration. For more, see my review for Audiofile Magazine.

Overall:

Fascinating and suspenseful, “Trespass” is a masterful psychological novel, although not one for those easily offended by sex and dysfunction.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: AudioFile Magazine.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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