Title: The White Devil
Author: Justin Evans
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
When American student Andrew Taylor arrives at Harrow School in England, he knows it’s his last chance. He won’t be able to get into college if he doesn’t make something of himself during the year he’s at Harrow. But as soon as he arrives, he is overwhelmed by something he can’t see, a creepy feeling that sends chills down his spine. When a fellow student dies, and Andrew sees the murderer – an otherworldly figure that can only be described as a ghost – he realizes he is in over his head and must reach out to those around him for help.
The White Devil is an incredibly creepy novel that successfully straddles that thin line between mystery and horror. From the beginning, Andrew is a fish out of water. Overwhelmed by the knowledge that, if he messes up in the least, his parents will be finished with him, all he wants to do is keep a low profile for his year at Harrow. It doesn’t help that he catches the eye of the one girl at the all-boys’ school, one with a reputation. The boys around Andrew are really merciless, and the reader really sympathizes with Andrew as he desperately tries, and fails, to stay under the radar.
The novel centers around the historical figure of Lord Byron. Andrew is cast as Byron in a play being directed by Andrew’s housemaster, Fawkes, as Byron was an alumnus of Harrow. This literary basis for the novel elevates it from a basic ghost story and makes it appeal to the thinking mind rather than the gut instinct of fear. As Byron becomes an increasingly important player in the central storyline, readers will appreciate being able to learn something, while also being simultaneously entertained and spooked.
Evans deals with teen bullying very deftly in The White Devil. He provides a commentary on the incredibly important issue without preaching about it to the reader. It can be graphic at times, but it has an important place in the story, and I think Evans handled it well.
I don’t want to say any more about The White Devil for fear of giving away too much about the plot. It’s one of those novels that readers will get lost in, and knowing too much about what is going to happen will likely take away some of that magic. I really enjoyed the shivers this book sent down my spine, and I can’t wait to see what Evans does next.