In the Devil's Name by Dave Watson

Some of the locals in Ballantrae still tell tales about haunted Bennane Head, the cliffs just up the coast where mythical mass murderer and cannibal Sawney Beane is said to have dwelt with his inbred family during the seventeenth century. Never walk past there at night, they say, or heaven help you. Just a ghost story to give the tourists a thrill.

Phil, Griff, Sam and Cairnsey are local boys who enjoy a smoke, a beer and the occasional tab of mind bending acid, and celebrating the end of high school with some trips and a night’s camping at Bennane Head sounds like a high old time. When their drug fuelled revelry descends into a nightmarish fight for their sanity and survival however, those who make it through the night will know that true evil never forgets unpaid debts.

This book, based around the Scottish legend of Sawney Bean, is very well written and atmospheric, drawing you in as the book goes from the typical teenagers go off to party in the woods to the supernatural carnage that wrecks havoc on a small provincial town. This is a gripping tale of true friendship and the horrors that feed on fear and anger.

In the Devil’s Name focuses on four friends finishing their final year of school, relaxing before their exams start. Griff, Sam, Phil and Cairnsey are typical 17/18 year olds; they like to smoke weed, drink and take the occasional recreational drug, but they have a deep friendship, having known each other all their lives. The characters are distinctive from each other and we are given information about their very different backgrounds.

The book then turns the world they knew into something far more sinister. After a camping trip goes terribly wrong we are left trying to figure out if the Legend of Sawney Bean may be coming true. This legend is based on an incestuous family of cannibals that killed and ate hundreds of people before finally being caught by King James IV (search Legend of Sawney Bean for more information).

The tension builds, putting strain on the boy’s friendship as they struggle to find out the truth behind the evil hunting them. In the Devil’s Name gives us a good background knowledge of local legends and distorts these legends for fictional purposes which are both interesting and appealing. For a reviewer who constantly avoids going to see horror movies, I can say that at points this book was very chilling and yet written in a way that makes you pause to catch your breath before the next scare appears.

8/10 A very well written and atmospheric book based upon the Scottish legend of Sawney Bean.

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