I live in Bristol UK horror dark fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run
Having enjoyed immensely The Loney with the quiet and isolated Lancastrian coast, I was hoping to be equally enthralled by Devil's Day where John Pentecost returns to the place of his childhood, the rural farming community of the Briardale Valley known as the Endlands. On this trip he is accompanied by his wife Katherine who is heavily pregnant with their first child. The reason for the journey is to attend his grandfather's funeral affectionately known to everyone as Gaffer.
Whereas The Loney had a great story to tell with a very unsettling conclusion, I found Devil's Day a rather laborious exercise and almost give up at the half way point. It is really a story of rituals, local folklore and introverted hillside sheep farmers. Legend has it that once a year the Devil returns to the valley in an attempt to unsettle the community and cause mischief amongst the sheep. By telling tales, regurgitating stories from the past, and redrawing the boundary lines it is hoped that the Devil can be kept isolated and the people of Endlands kept safe for another year. Endlands is that rare thing a place separate from the intrusion of the modern age entrenched in tradition and a population willing to fight for independence to maintain their link with the past. John Pentecost is drawn to the beauty and harshness, his wife Kat feels very uneasy as she is seen as an outsider and viewed with suspicion; tolerated more than accepted. There is however one acceptation, Grace Dyer, a young and rather consused teenager who with her odd power of prediction forms a very disquieting attraction towards a pregnant Kat.
The story is somewhat confusing and at times hard to follow as we view Endlands both in the present and the past. The narration is through the eyes of John Pentecost and we meet him in the present, in the company of his son Adam, trying to instil him the ways of his ancestors then, without warning we are immediately in the past again with a pregnant and suspicious Kat. Whereas The Loney used the landscape to great affect creating a wonderful modern horror story Devil's Day has some good ideas and moments played out through the characters of John, Kat, Adam, Grace and Dadda but essentially little seems to happen and ultimately leading to a somewhat predictable conclusion. Many thanks to netgalley and the publisher John Murray for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.