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The White Devil: A Novel Paperback – July 10, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Want a good English ghost story to read by the fire on a cold winter night? [The White Devil] gathers you in lovingly, then takes you in a strangler’s grip with its escalating horrors.” (Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly (2011 Pop Culture Favorites))

“Demonic possession, the provocative topic of Justin Evans’s first novel, A Good and Happy Child, takes on a literary twist and a sexual jolt in The White Devil. . . . Evans heaps an assortment of gothic embellishments onto this coming-of-age narrative.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Chilling-to-the-bone. . . . Deliciously frightening, The White Devil is a literary scare story in an earlier tradition before vampires ruled the day, or at least the genre.” (New York Daily News)

“[An] ingenious and creepy supernatural thriller, will give you chills even in the summer heat. Evans has fused a literary mystery, sinister ghost story and Gothic romance with the story of a boy’s intellectual and sexual awakening.” (Kansas City Star)

“Evans ratchets up the suspense at an expert pace. . . . The White Devil [is] an authentic page-turner that may well be devoured in one sitting.” (Shelf Awareness)

“[An] ingenious and creepy supernatural thriller, will give you chills even in the summer heat. Evans has fused a literary mystery, sinister ghost story and Gothic romance with the story of a boy’s intellectual and sexual awakening.” (The Tuscon Citizen)

“[A] crackling literary mystery. . . . Harrow itself contains Shirley Jackson levels of gloomy passages and dark secrets. Smart, scary, sexy, and gorgeously written to boot.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Gripping. . . . [A] disturbing gothic thriller.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

The White Devil is an intelligent, bristling ghost story with a stunning sense of place, a uniquely frightful spirit, and a band of absolutely charming heroes—Byronic and otherwise. You’ll dread reaching the end-while flipping the pages furiously.” (Gillian Flynn, author of Sharp Objects and Dark Places)

The White Devil is a page-turning tour de force. Both a thoughtful and learned homage to the ghost story, and a clever and compelling rethinking of the genre, this is an amazing, frightening, and believable novel. I loved it.” (David Liss, author of The Devil's Company)

The White Devil is part ghost story, part murder mystery, part coming-of-age tale, part romance. It’s a delightful cocktail. Justin Evans’ writing is crisp, his storytelling vigorous, his sense of the uncanny pitch perfect. And he’s written a wonderfully creepy book.” (Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins)

From the Back Cover

Sex, Death, and Boarding School

When seventeen-year-old Andrew Taylor is transplanted from his American high school to a British boarding school—the English, hypertraditional, all-boys Harrow School—he finds his past mistakes following him, with an added element of horror: visions of a pale, white-haired boy from Harrow's past. Either Andrew is losing his mind, or the house legend about his dormitory being haunted is true.

When one of his schoolmates dies mysteriously of a severe pulmonary illness, Andrew is blamed and spurned by nearly all his peers. In his loneliness and isolation, Andrew becomes obsessed with Lord Byron's story and the poet's status not only as a literary genius and infamous seducer but also as a student at the very different Harrow of two centuries ago—a place rife with violence, squalor, incurable diseases, and tormented love affairs.

When frightening and tragic events from that long-ago past start to recur in Harrow's present, and Andrew's haunting begins to seem all too real, he is forced to solve a two-hundred-year-old mystery that threatens the lives of his friends and his teachers—and, most terrifyingly, his own.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061728284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061728280
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,769,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By barry VINE VOICE on June 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I did enjoy this novel by Justin Evans but must start off by saying I in no way found it a gothic thriller as it is being described. Thriller leads the reader to think of it being scary and a page turner with much suspense. This is not what this book is about. Not to knock it at all. The gothic genre is achieved with high colors. Evans is a very good intelligent author and he sets the backdrop of England and the brooding boarding school Harrow School so well it leaps from the pages and comes to life. He is comfortable with the gothic genre and setting from page one till the end. The story is about American student Andrew Taylor who is sent to the school as a last resort by his father. He was kicked out of many schools in America for his behaviour and Harrow School is his last chance. The novel grabbed me from the beginning with the intense atmosphere, well defined characters and quick fast paced plot. The story moved quickly and right off the bat there is a murder. An added aspect to the plot is Andrew getting involved in a play about poet Byron who was a student at the school. He bears a strong resemblance to him physically and this is an important part of the story. Other main characters are Piers Hawkes, the house master who is also a past his time poet and drunk plus Persephone, the only female student at the school. Piers is the author of the play about Byron and Persephone the female lead.

But from here on the pace of the novel slows down as the ghost story unfolds. The first appearances of the ghost rang very true and I was at the edge of my seat. It was creepy and spellbinding. Andrew is the recipient of these visions and I expected a novel with ever increasing suspense and dread as the ghost made its presence stronger. In other words a great gothic thriller.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For as long as I can remember I've been a sucker for gothic thrillers, especially those set at British boarding schools. There's so much potential there - the ancient school buildings, the fog-shrouded landscapes, the sense of history frozen in time, the wafting hint of repression and unnatural obsessions. Alas, despite all that potential, no example of the genre has ever lived up to my melodramatic expectations. Either they're so poorly written that it's an effort not to gag at the overworked metaphors and lame cliches, or else they devolve into a climax so anticlimactic and silly that I find myself thinking: "Really? I've read all this way, and that's all you've got?"

And then, finally, a book that delivers the goods! White Devil is a literate, well paced, dense ghost story with characters that engage, writing that absorbs, red herrings so intriguing you'll enjoy being led astray, and a plot that keeps tightening the tension until the final sentences of the story's wholly original, wholly satisfying, wholly creepy denouement.

The story revolves around Andrew Taylor, a 17yr old American boy exiled by his outraged parents to an exclusive English boarding School after scandal and a death force him to flee his school in Connecticut. But the ghosts he's left behind are nothing compared to the ghost waiting for him at Harrow School - a pallid, spectral lad whose soul remains bound to earth by 200-year old cruelties and jealousies.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I chose this book from the Vine selection for a couple reasons: 1.) I'm English and attended an English boarding school (Winchester) before migrating to the colonies. 2.) I seem to be on a Byron kick of late, having recently finished reading his complete letters and diary entries. Author Justin Evans is an American who, like our protagonist Andrew Taylor herein, spent a year at Harrow. There were a few Yanks at Winchester too, so I was interested in how Evans depicted it all. My verdict - It all comes across as rather stock and mediocre, rather what one expects to find than any grand surprises or disclosures.

The book will be best appreciated by those who adore Gothic atmospherics for their own sake and who, as Evans admits in the "essay" on this Amazon page, believe in actual ghosts. Some reviewers, no doubt unduly influenced by Harry Potter, seem troubled by the homosexuality and drugs depicted in the book. Trust me, Evans is not letting you in on the half of it.

Evans plays fast and loose with Byronic scholarship here, which didn't bother me so much. It's a work of fiction, after all. But he does depict Byron as the stereotypical roué most people think of him as rather than the complicated human being that he was. Also, for those interested, John Harness is based on an actual historical figure, John Eccleston, whom Byron mentions in his early letters and for whom he clearly felt some sort of affection. Also, again for those interested, the Latin quotes on the chalkboard are from Virgil's Aeneid, which every six-former must master to graduate. They remain untranslated in the book, so here are my ad hoc translations:

1.) (p. 87 in the ARC) "And from the highest summit the nymphs cried out..."

2.) (p.
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