GIVE US THAT OLD-TIME RELIGION
About fifteen miles west of Stauford, Kentucky lies Devil’s Creek. According to local legend, there used to be a church out there, home to the Lord’s Church of Holy Voices—a death cult where Jacob Masters preached the gospel of a nameless god.
And like most legends, there’s truth buried among the roots and bones.
In 1983, the church burned to the ground following a mass suicide. Among the survivors were Jacob’s six children and their grandparents, who banded together to defy their former minister. Dubbed the “Stauford Six,” these children grew up amid scrutiny and ridicule, but their infamy has faded over the last thirty years.
Now their ordeal is all but forgotten, and Jacob Masters is nothing more than a scary story told around campfires.
For Jack Tremly, one of the Six, memories of that fateful night have fueled a successful art career—and a lifetime of nightmares. When his grandmother Imogene dies, Jack returns to Stauford to settle her estate. What he finds waiting for him are secrets Imogene kept in his youth, secrets about his father and the church. Secrets that can no longer stay buried.
The roots of Jacob’s buried god run deep, and within the heart of Devil’s Creek, something is beginning to stir…
I’ll preface this review by saying that I appreciate that the book is really well written and is heavily inspired by Stephen King in style and content, and as someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy King’s writing style (heresy, I know), I was never going to be the hugest fan. That being said, I read all 400+ pages so clearly something about it worked for me! This book is an epic and well worth the love it’s getting, the 3 stars are representative of my personal enjoyment of it.
I’d venture that this book was about 100 pages than it needed to be to comfortably convey the story, I’m too impatient to truly enjoy the pace at which the author revealed the mysteries of Devil’s Creek.
It all begins with six children being rescued from becoming sacrificial lambs to an old god living under a cultist church. They spend their lives trying to recover from the trauma of their messed up childhoods, but eventually events lead them back to their creepy priest father and the old god that still wants his sacrifice.
The author doesn’t balk at the nastier and gorier sides of horror – including plenty of assaults on children, incest and gross zombie worm puke. The first two are handled with appropriate delicacy so it doesn’t feel like they’re glorifying the acts or downplaying how horrific they actually are, but they hit hard and made me a little queasy in places.
The theme of a group of connected adults coming together to the place where they experienced trauma at the hands of an ancient evil as children has a very ‘It’ feel, right down to some of the nasty interactions between characters and uncomfortable sexualisation of teens.
The characters are well written and each one continues to grow as the story progresses, but for me the main appeal was the description of how tight a hold the evil had on the town. It was easier for it to slip through the cracks in a small town filled with bigots and bullies, which… y’know… fair.
For fans of Stephen King, this book is going to blow your socks off. For horror fans who don’t worship at the altar of King, it’ll at the very least make you nod your head in respect.
TW: Incest, sexual assault, child abuse, torture.