Book Review: The Devil’s Serenade (2016)

the-devils-serenade

 

Fresh off writing Dark Avenging Angel, one of Beneath the Underground’s Top 20 Books of 2015 comes The Devil’s Serenade, a freshly classic venture into haunted house stories from author Catherine Cavendish.

 

Having spent a great deal of time at her aunt’s mansion, known as Hargest House, Madeleine Chambers now finds herself as the sole heir of the house and its property after the passing of her relative. Epic in its size and dark in its presence, her new home is filled with mysteries including a large one that involves Maddie. When she was sixteen, her last summer at the house until some years later, an incident took place, one that was so horrendous that the event was pushed from Maddie’s memory.

 

Being an only child with few friends, Maddie created a multitude of playmates with her imagination, including a new identity for herself, Kelly. Before Maddie can even unpack all of her belongings, she begins to see and feel the presence of these creations. Songs being played, the smell of tobacco, giggling in rooms on the second floor, just to name a few. Is there anything more terrifying than the ghost of something that was never truly alive to begin with? The subtle themes to the story are at the heart of the terror, terror in the most classic sense, with a splash of poetry and romanticism for the emotions that are evoked.

 

As odd as these experiences are, the encounters will grow to become more frequent and far more troubling than she ever imagined. Maddie will try to hold her sanity as she pieces her memory back together in hopes of solving the mysteries that surround her new home. As shocking and terrifying as the encounters are with the children, nothing will prepare her for the demonic horrors that await her.

 

Haunting books are a tricky subject to nail down. Most authors seem to know the beats in films that send shivers down your spine, but they do not know how to effectively translate that into the written word without being formulaic. Cavendish displays a natural talent for succeeding where most fail. In her writing, it isn’t about the shadow moving in the corner, it’s about the feeling that it gives you and that is what is terrifying to read. With all of the specters running about, nothing terrified me more than that damn willow tree, a large tree that survived years of cold and even a lightning strike or two. Being far away from the house itself, the roots snake their way into the basement, creating tentacle like formations in the foundation of the mansion. The unknown and the known regarding this tree fill my mind with vivid reactions of honest to goodness horror.

 

Having read as many horror books and seen as many horror films as I have, very little effects me. This book rattled me at times. Living in a place where the roof creaks lent itself to me only wanting to read it in the daytime. Needless to say, Catherine’s writing is intelligent and brings an elegance back to horror that has been missing for years. The Devil’s Serenade is a true testament to her body of work.

 

The Devil’s Serenade releases April 19th from Samhain Publishing.

Order a copy here: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5773/the-devils-serenade

Visit Catherine’s site: http://www.catherinecavendish.com/

Author: David J. Sharp

Editor-in-Chief of Cinema Bluster. Co-host of The BS Podcast. Critic of both film and literature. My work can be found at Cinema Bluster and on Horror Underground, Beneath the Underground, Splatterpunk and others. Film geek. Collector nerd.

Twitter: @HorrorUndergr
Email: Send Email

Share This Post On