I’ve been wanting to read Lukavics’s debut novel since it first released last year. However, I finally got around to putting it in my Amazon cart and bought it. What excited me even more than the cover was the blurb on the cover.
Imagine Stephen King writing Little House on the Prairie. — Cat Winters
And you all know how much I love Cat Winters. So, eeeeiii!
Okay, so onto the review…
Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
Released 2015, HarlequinTeen
Before I go onto the review, I will say this: I’m excited to read more by Lukavics. (She does have a book coming out soon…) This particular book just wasn’t my cup of tea. But she’s a great writer and I do think she’ll just get better with each publication.
What It’s About:
The story centers on 16 year old protagonist Amanda Verner who lives in a small (one-room) cabin high in the mountains with her six family members. The newest family member is her infant sister, Hannah, who was born deaf and blind as the result of a horrible fever her mother had during a four-month blizzard.
Now, I know that sounds crazy, but Lukavics does a great job of explaining the probability of this. It takes place way before cars and hospitals and near-by towns. When I say they live in the mountains, I mean they live in the mountains. The ride to the nearest town (or settlement) is at least a full day’s horse ride. (And that’s not including if the horse is carrying a wagon or heavy load.)
Lukavics’s choice of setting changes from the mountains to prairie lands. The family decides to leave their home and travel (two weeks worth by ox and wagon — think real life Oregon Trail).
Here are a few things you need to know before I move on to their new home:
- Amanda just realized she’s pregnant. She’s not married. She was having an affair with a post boy. When she told him she was pregnant, he did the typical boy thing and told her it wasn’t his problem and fled. (This will add to the horror story later.)
- Hannah (the baby sister) cries and cries. And after being cooped up in the cabin for four months with her family members, they are all a little mad.
- Amanda’s relationship with her parents and younger sister/best friend, Emily, is very strained.
Now, when they arrive to the new cabin, they’re shocked to find that the interior is COVERED. IN. BLOOD. Creepy. But instead of packing up and going home, Pa decides to strip the wood and rebuild the floor so it’s like new.
So, a few strange things start happening. First, Amanda has a miscarriage. Then, she thinks she’s hearing her baby crying in the woods.
Now, I’m going to stop talking plot because I don’t want to risk spoiling you. It’s about this point (halfway through or so) that things really start happening.
I liked it for what it was. I’m not much into the prairie setting to begin with, so that was a little off-putting for me, even with the horror aspect. However, Lukavics did do a good job of describing the setting/era for the reader. I did feel like I was “there” with the characters, so that was a plus. However, it took about half the book to really get into the horror story of it. Now, I do understand why Lukavics did this — she was setting up the scene. She did drop some hints about “last winter” and Amanda being driven a little mad by cabin fever, but it’s not until after the miscarriage that the reader starts to see the horror aspects built up.
I was a little disappointed that it took so long to bring out the scary. And what did happen was a little cliche. But I also read a lot of horror, so…
Characters: I wouldn’t say the characters were flat, but I do think there was room for some development. The use of flashbacks to “last winter” did help a little to create a better sketch of Amanda (and the other characters), but I would have liked to know a little more about her.
Plot: I don’t want to spoil too much because this is a classic genre story. In that sense, Lukavics did do a great job sticking to convention. In the end, it’s a great story that is based on lore or an urban myth. If (when) you read it and finish, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
The end was a little flat for me. I was disappointed with it. While I know it’s part of the genre, it was a little predictable in a lot of ways. Although, if it HADN’T ended in the way it did, I think I would have been more disappointed.
The Horror Aspect: I had some questions when I finished. I always want to know more, and there was a lot of room for Lukavics to explore and add description and detail. In a way, I think this is meant for younger (and more reluctant) readers. Sort of like a Mary Downing Hahn book, maybe?
I just realized I didn’t add any GIFs to this post. I’m not even sure what I would add to this. That’s a sad time in my life. :(