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The Right Hand of Evil Hardcover – June 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345433165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345433169
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,814,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

John Saul has been giving readers the jitters since the publication of Suffer the Children in 1977. His 22nd twisted tale, The Right Hand of Evil is another nerve shaker.

The Conway family is in deep financial trouble. Ted Conway would rather knock back bourbon than support his family, and Janet Conway's career as an artist is going nowhere. Happily, the three Conway children--toddler Molly and 15-year-old twins Jared and Kimberley--seem well adjusted. Of course happy children to not make for good horror material, so dark times are just around the corner.

Ted receives an unexpected call from a Louisiana sanatorium, where his aged Aunt Cora is dying. Cora wants to convey a final message to her only surviving family members. She rasps out the ominous words, "I can see it. Stay away! Stay away from here!" Her words are futile--the financially strapped Ted moves his family into Cora's old house, a house deeded to them in a family trust.

Young Kimberley instantly feels a dark presence in the dilapidated Victorian house: "Suddenly her skin was crawling, as if a large insect were creeping across her neck." Tragedy upon tragedy strikes the family. Kim's beloved cat disappears and is sacrificed in a black-magic ceremony; an evil presence takes over Jared's mind--transforming him into the most rotten of bad seeds; the wails of a dead infant fill Kim's head, driving her to the edge of insanity. The family has fallen victim to a centuries-old curse--a curse that threatens to wipe out the Conway name.

Although there is nothing particularly original or earth shattering about this haunted-house story, The Right Hand of Evil is still a welcome piece of escapism. Read it at your peril. --Naomi Gesinger

From Publishers Weekly

Saul has trawled the trenches of the Gothic many times before (The Blackstone Chronicles, etc.), but this whopper of a nightmare tale has been fished from the region's purplest depths. Infanticide, insanity, miscegenation and black magic are in the mulch that nurtures the Conway family tree by the time Ted Conway moves his family to the small Louisiana town of St. Albans and into the house bequeathed him by his weird Aunt Cora, who was institutionalized for 40 years following the suicide of her husband and the disappearance of her newborn child. An alcoholic who can barely hold a job, Ted blossoms under the cursed house's influence and begins restoring it with a plan to turn it into a hotel. By contrast, Ted's teenage son Jared absorbs the taint that has infected generations of his ancestors and spits it back out in acts of juvenile delinquency and ritual animal sacrifice. Among the folks convinced that the transformation of both father and son are due to the same malignant presence are the parish priest, determined to drive the Conways out of town, and a voodoo practicing next-door neighbor, whose father was lynched by one of Ted's forebears. The spooky moments, which culminate (not surprisingly) on Halloween weekend, never quite add up. But Saul juggles clich?s at truly dazzling speed, and almost persuades readers that the holes in the plot are for catching one's breath while trying to keep pace with his dizzying twists. Doubleday Book Club main selection; Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

The plot is predictable and the story and characters are weak.
C. Smith
The story meanders and doesn't really go anywhere, doesn't make all that much sense, and then just abruptly ends with no real resolution.
Book Lover
If this was your first John Saul read, please DO NOT give up...his other books are much much better.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Penn on April 14, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When alcoholic Ted Conway inherits his ancestral home in Louisiana, after the death of an estranged aunt, wife Janet accepts the move as the last chance for the family to stay together. She's almost immediately disappointed, however, and makes plans to leave with their three children and their dog. Then Ted has a remarkable healing, bringing about sobriety, and returning him to the man Janet fell in love with years ago.
The small town of St. Albans doesn't welcome the Conways. The communities' memories and rumors of the wrongs and evils perpetrated by the Conways extends even to the children. The house is said to be haunted. Certainly something evil exists within its foundations, a miasma that aims to mutilate and destroy that which is good or innocent. Ted's remarkable healing as result of the touch of evil will cost both his own soul, and possibly the soul of his son.
The estranged Aunt Cora who passed the house to Ted also passed the family bible to the parish priest. Within its pages are the recordings of the generations of Conway women who know the secret of the house's evil. As father Devlin discovers the tragic stories and locates the missing pages, the generations of evil begun at the hands of a priest lead him to the Conway house to aid the fight against a monstrous evil.
Having checked out the many of reviews at, I find it interesting that the higher marks come from readers like myself who haven't read a lot of John Saul's work. THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL heavy grounding in Catholicism and Satanism won't be to everyone's taste, nevertheless, I found Saul's approach fascinating and addictive. The convoluted and twisted plot kept the pages turning quickly, and I find the origin of the evil within the Conway house fascinating. A remarkable tale in detail, such as the painted garden in the dining room, and rich characterization, I recommend THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Betty Chan on June 7, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the 1st of John's books that I've read and the quality of this book has urged me to get another one of his writings, after I'm done with the pile I have now.
The Conways have been cursed. A trust means that they had to live in that old abandoned house in which rumours of death, evil and conspiracy had spread through the generations in the little town of St. Alban.
Janet's husband, Ted Conway, recovers from his decade long problem of drinking overnight and Jared, their eldest son, takes a turn from his twin sister, someone who was his closest friend since their birth. What's really going on?
I broke my own personal record by finishing this book within 10 hours. After reading the 1st 12 chapters, I did not want to stop. The story was very smooth flowing; the plot simple yet mysterious. The main characters were thoroughly developed and the words painted a totally spooky house of horror.
I was chilled within those first chapters and wanted to get to the bottom of the terror as quickly as I could. Very enjoyable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 2, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Saul's The Right Hand of Evil left me rather unmoved. It's a fairly enjoyable read, but it cannot be called highly original, scary, or awe-inspiring. This is pretty typical John Saul. A dysfunctional family of five-an alcoholic father, rather weak mother, a pair of adolescent twins, and an infant-faces desperation when Ted loses yet another job as a hotel assistant manager due to his drinking. Then comes a call that Ted's aunt, shut up in a sanitarium for decades, is dying. Suddenly, the family inherits a large, old house which Ted decides to make into an inn with the money left to him by an aunt he cared nothing about. Of course, trouble begins brewing immediately. The close-knit townspeople of St. Albans do not want anyone living in that evil house, abandoned for forty years-especially not another Conway. Conways in that house have always meant big, big trouble for the town; stories of murder and evil surround the old house, as do hidden eyes watching and biding their time. Hated and shunned by the whole community, her husband drinking more heavily than ever, Janet decides to take her children and finally leave. Miraculously, though, she finds that her husband Ted seems to have finally changed completely and given up alcohol. For the first time, the family begins to enjoy a normal life of sorts, but burgeoning happiness soon recedes back into terror as Jared, the first-born son begins to change, seemingly taking on all of the bad qualities his father has just overcome.
There's a story behind the history of the house, of course, one going back over a century (no surprise here; the whole ancient curse theme is Saul's trademark plot point). We gradually learn exactly what has taken place in the house, but this particular puzzle has few pieces missing to begin with.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Vullo on March 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was my first John Saul novel and I wasn't impressed. In fact I was downright bored. I'm not saying I won't read another one of his novels, but I'll ask around for a good one first, because if his other books are like this one, then DAMN.
Now I read quiet a bit, and I love a good scary story from time to time. .... It starts off well, scary house in the woods...that hasn't been lived in for years. Yada know the formula. Anyway half way through the book it takes a turn for the worst. No clear plot, or conclusion. Boring desriptions and characters you could care less for.
I promise you, in a few years there will about 100 copies of this book on the used bookstore shelf in your town, because no one will want to hold onto it. Please don't waste your time.
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More About the Author

House of Reckoning is John Saul's thirty-sixth novel. His first novel, Suffer the Children, published in 1977, was an immediate million-copy bestseller. His other bestselling suspense novels include Faces of Fear, In the Dark of the Night, Perfect Nightmare, Black Creek Crossing, Midnight Voices, The Manhattan Hunt Club, Nightshade, The Right Hand of Evil, The Presence, Black Lightning, The Homing, and Guardian. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling serial thriller The Blackstone Chronicles, initially published in six installments but now available in one complete volume. Saul divides his time between Seattle, Washington, and Hawaii.

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