Monday, October 30, 2017
Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
“It was the land itself. It had been soured by an infection of constant panic, hate and fear.”
Amanda Verner isn’t the same person she was before last winter. Before she saw something in the woods. Before her mother gave birth to her baby sister who was born deaf and blind. Before she met the boy that she meets in the woods. Now she’s pregnant with the boy’s child and she doesn’t know what to do. Her father has decided it’s time to leave their mountain home for the prairies before the harsh winter comes and tears the family apart this time. The Verners discover that their new home may not be the best thing for their family. The cabin is covered in blood and the floorboards and torn up from the floor. Amanda starts to hear things… kids laughing, crying, and things start to blur between paranormal and hallucination. What’s real and can the Verners withstand it and come out alive? This is the perfect Halloween book if you are a fan of ghost stories/ paranormal settings. Daughters Unto Devils is intense. It’s hard to put down. Lukavics does a great job of having an unreliable narrator struggling through her own guilt over her fleshly sins, her past, her family struggles, and whether or not what she experiences is real. I read this book so quickly and I didn’t want to put it down, which is rarity as a college student juggling being an active member of the color guard and in Chi Alpha. The only time I have to read is when I walk to class and I couldn’t put this book. I flew through it and when one of my classes was cancelled I took the time to read this book for that hour of free time. This is the type of book you want to read in one-go because if you put it down you’ll lose momentum and you may see the plot holes or oddities of the story. Lukavics is an author to watch in YA horror. She does it right. It’s haunting, creepy, unsettling, and over the top. She pushes boundaries that many are too scared to.
Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.25
The main character is Amanda Verner. Amanda is a very interesting character. She is someone you are not meant to like, but she also has qualities that make you like her. I think Amanda’s problem is that she hates herself so much that she thinks everything she does is evil, when reality she is a good person. This is actually a theme that I really liked and I don’t know if anyone else picked up on it, but the theme of evil and whether Amanda is possessed is important to the story and how it unfolds. I have my own interpretations of that Amanda thinks she is possessed because she is struggling with her fleshly downfalls. Amanda has participated in sex at a young age outside of marriage in a time when that is very against strict religious doctrine and I saw Amanda’s struggle with her own inner demons as a metaphor for her own struggle as a human. I’m probably off or just looking for themes that aren’t there, but I like to see Amanda’s struggle in that light because it makes her character arc come full circle and make more sense. While Amanda wasn’t always the best character, there were moments where she shined. Like when she holds Hannah for the first time and regrets praying she was dead. My heart melted at that scene and I started tearing up. Also props to Lukavics for tackling teen miscarriagesthat’s something rarely talked about, much less portrayed in YA literature.
"The only devil inside of you is the one you created yourself.”
Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 3.5
There is a wide cast of characters. Mainly because Amanda comes from a big family, but they are all such wonderful characters. I felt like I was a part of the family. Emily is the eldest sister after Amanda, but she acts older than Amanda and gives her a lot of wise advice. There was Ma, who offered a lot of sweet advice, usually in Bible verses that were spot on than the girls would care to admit. There was Pa, who was kind of standoffish, but he loved his family and his actions showed that. There was Joanna and Charles, who were never far away from one another and I sometimes thought they were twins. Lastly, there’s Hannah, who was born deaf and blind, she’s still a baby, but she plays such an integral part in this story that she feels more prominent than some of the adult characters. I loved Hannah so much. There is also Zeke and his father, a doctor, who live in the woods next to the prairie. They play a very odd role in this story and I’m still not sure exactly what they were doing, but they were definitely important. Lukavics does a great job of fleshing out characters with stories of the past to make you feel like you knew them and have been a member of the family always.
Character Scale: 3.75
The Villain- There are ants. Those ants. Totally horrifying. There are pigs, which are my worst fear because 1) they eat people 2) Spirited Away pig parents 3) that Criminal Minds episode 4) now this story. Pigs and ants were not something I expected to be used in such a horrifying way, but it worked out so well. But man, what a ride. I’m still creeped out over this and I’m glad I’m not a settler in a prairie.
Villain Scale: 5
The ending also sets up potential for a sequel and I say, yes please. I want a sequel from another member of the family’s PoV. Anyway, this a great horror novel that completely surprised and while it isn’t a perfect novel, it accomplishes what it sets out to do. This novel offers a scary, fun ride with an atmospheric setting that is memorable and haunting. Also pigs.
Plotastic Scale: 4.25
Cover Thoughts: This cover is creepy and unsettling. 10/10 creepy enough not to want to look at.
Thank you, Netgalley and Harlequin Teen, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read any horrifying reads this October? What are some of your favorite YA horror novels? I want to read some more! Are you dressing up this Halloween? What are you going as? Let me know down below in the comments!