Devourer of Souls by Kevin Lucia (The Clifton Heights Saga #3)

Devourer of Souls by Kevin Lucia is supernatural horror very much in the vein of Stephen King. It is made up of two novella length stories set in the same town, with a frame story that loosely connects the two novellas. While I don't think the horror in this book will make you wet your pants, it does establish an atmosphere that I think will make you feel uncomfortable and, for a horror story, that is a very good thing.

The first story is a collection of scattered memories from a man recalling a horrible event from his childhood. He and his friends were raised through their teenage years by fathers who had just returned from Vietnam, creating a lot of friction between the boys and a local Vietnamese grocer who was more than what he appeared. I felt like this story did a great job of channelling Stand By Me, both in content and in the atmosphere created by the story. The dread provides a thick blanket, but the mystery keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Lucia makes these memories and the characters within seem so real, and I am really impressed with the amount of stuff he was able to fit in so few pages.

The second story has a similar structure to the first story, with a man recalling a horrible event from his late teenage years. The man was born with cerebral palsy, his father was a man of God, his mother was killed in a car accident, and his faith in a higher power was naught. His life is quite dull until one year at bible camp, when a preacher arrives who claims to be a miracle healer and that he can make the Cerebral Palsy go away. There seems to be no doubting this preacher's ability, but nobody is asking about the cost. I thought this was a great examination of the culture surround religion, and the effects of persuasion. It also asks some very good questions, particularly about contradiction of accepting the way God made you and then asking God for a miracle cure.

While these two stories are great on their own, it is hard to see how they mesh together. The overarching frame story revolves around a couple of people exploring all of the supernatural mysteries that seem to have infested the town, and it starts with real promise, but in the end it goes nowhere with no real resolution, and that left me kind of disappointed. I think this book would have been better served without the overarching frame story, but that said, I can see its potential and where it may lead in future books. And besides, the stars of this book are the two novella length stories, and they both make me want to read more of what Lucia has to offer.

9/10 Supernatural horror very much in the vein of Stephen King.

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