Thursday, December 31, 2020

Flashbacklist- Devil's Footsteps

Richards, E. E. The Devil's Footsteps
August 9th 2005 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Library copy

Bryan's family has fallen apart ever since his brother Adam disappeared five years ago. Bryan was with him in the woods, and his brother dared him to say the local rhyme that summons the Dark Man, but Bryan chickened out. Adam didn't. There have been many children go missing in the area over the years, but no one seems to be able to find out why. When he meets Stephen, who thinks he's seen the dark man while retrieving his younger sister Nina from swimming lessons, the two boys start to investigate the legend of the Dark Man. They have one horrifying experience, and decide it is true that whatever power there is can feed on the fears of its prey. They meet Jake at the library, and he is studying the phenomenon because a good friend of his, Lucy, has also disappeared. The three teens investigate different areas of town where the vibes are especially strong, and uncover some interesting history. The Dark Man has targeted them, but will Bryan be able to put aside his strongest desire to get rid of the force of evil once and for all. 
Strengths: This is a nice blend of psychological horror and rivers of blood gushing down stairs in a creepy house and almost drowning our protagonists. The philosophical musings about Bryan's parents not being there for their son, and Bryan's own struggles in dealing with Adam's disappearance don't overwhelm the story, which cuts quickly enough to horrific scenes to keep most middle school students interested. I have four copies of this, and all of them are in tatters. 
Weaknesses: Readers who only want slasher film type scenes piled on top of each other might find this slow going. 
What I really think: This is a well done, tightly wound horror story, and I am really sad that E. E. Richards didn't have more books out in the US, and seems to have dropped off the face of the earth!

Ms. Yingling

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