Book: The Devil You Know by Adrian Lillycategories: Book, Halloween, Haunted House, Devil, Gothic Horror, Paranormal, Supernatural, Satan, Devil Worship, Ghosts, Haunting, Dark Fantasy, Suspense, Gothic Thriller
Adrian Lillyabout this book: The Devil You Know has all the traditional elements of a Gothic thriller: the creepy mansion, the shadowed corners, the isolated location, and the weird villagers. But the novels takes a decidedly dark turn.
It pits a teenage girl against her parents for survival.
Seventeen-year-old Julie Collins leaves her charmed life in Chicago for an abandoned mansion in the desolate woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She moves with her parents, on the premise that her dying father wishes to spend his final days there.
But things quickly change.
Her warm parents grow distant and angry. Then she sees her first ghost: a burning teenage boy. To unravel the mystery of the burning boy, Julie enlists the help of her only friend at her new school, Paul, who is also new to the school.
Together they begin to piece together a reality that is impossible for them to believe.
The Devil You Know, while having young adult main characters, contains universal themes that speak to adults.
In writing The Devil You Know, I focused on the themes of alienation and isolation. I took a character, Julie, who is kind and obedient and turned her world upside down so that she questions WHY she is kind and obedient. Her manners, her kindness, her willingness to sacrifice for those she loves is manipulated in horrible ways.
While Julie is physically isolated (no cell phone, no Internet), the real torture is her emotional isolation. She suddenly has no one in her life during a time of extreme crisis. These emotional elements are the hook. From there I added the paranormal haunting and occult elements that make this a horror novel, but the novel remains a character study.
I also focus on gothic elements. This is not a slice 'em up novel. The pacing, the wording, the setting, the scenery all harken back to traditional tales of horror.
This is a subtly haunting, creepy story about a life that goes terribly wrong – and Julie's only escape is to fight for her life against the ones she loves the most.
A side note: The Devil You Know became the title of the novel only on the last draft. Prior to that it was titled "The Devil's Playground." I changed the title to reflect the focus on relationships in the novel.
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