Book Review: The White Devil

Justin Evans
Harper, 2011
380 pages


I picked this one up when I saw it on the library's New Releases shelf for a couple reasons: (a) the cover looked interesting, (b) the title was vaguely familiar. Later I would remember that Entertainment Weekly had said it was really good. But I brought it home because the flap said it was a ghost story, and I do love a good ghost story.

In truth, The White Devil is part ghost story and part murder mystery. Seventeen-year-old Andrew Taylor has been shipped off from Connecticut to England to attend a boarding school. Which, of course, is haunted. Apparently Andrew's presence has roused the dormitory ghost, and . . . Well, I won't give too much away. But it has to do with Lord Byron, if that interests you at all.

Despite the fact that my synopsis makes it sound like a bad YA novel, The White Devil is a good read. The novel is populated with flawed adults as well as rowdy teenagers. And while the build is better than the finish, and some of the situations are predictable (the girlfriend is in danger!), as a whole the book is solid. The mystery does intrigue, as it is meant to, and the ghost is a real menace; some of the descriptions are not for the faint.

If it says anything to the quality of writing, I'm now considering looking up Evans' previous novel. He shows talent in The White Devil, and I'm curious as to whether it extends to his other work.

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