Book Reviews

Review: The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias

The Devil's Prayer by Luke Gracias

A nun commits suicide in front of thousands in Spain. In Australia, Siobhan Russo recognises that nun as her mother, Denise Russo, who disappeared six years ago.

In search of answers, Siobhan travels to the isolated convent where her mother once lived. Here she discovers Denise’s final confession, a book that details a heinous betrayal that left her crippled and mute, and Denise’s subsequent deal with the Devil to take revenge. In the desperate bargain Denise made with the Prince of Darkness, she wagered Siobhan’s soul.

As Siobhan discovers the fate of her soul, she learns that hidden within the pages of her mother’s confession is part of The Devil’s Prayer, an ancient text with the power to unleash apocalyptic horrors.

And now her mother’s enemies know Siobhan has it.

Can Siobhan escape an order of extremist monks determined to get the Prayer back? Can she save the world from its own destruction?

Explicit Content Warning: “The Devil’s Prayer” is a historical horror thriller that contains brutality, rape, sex, drug abuse and murder. Readers may find its content offensive and confronting.

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Author: Luke Gracias

Title: The Devil’s Prayer

Genre: Historical Horror Thriller

Published: August 8, 2016 by Australian eBook Publisher

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of the author and Netgalley.

After the death of her mother, Denise Russo, Siobhan needs to understand what caused her to vanish six years earlier, and finds herself caught up in a nightmare centuries in the making.  Traveling to the convent in Zamora where her mother lived, Siobhan is in danger from the moment she arrives, and it is with great difficulty that she is able to access her mother’s final written confession. Reading it, she learns of a terrible betrayal that led her mother to make a deal with the Devil, risking Siobhan’s soul if Denise didn’t hold up her end of the bargain. As disturbing as all that is to Siobhan, other discoveries made in later parts of her mother’s confession are absolutely horrifying… as is the unfinished task her mother begs her to complete.

The Devil’s Prayer is unlike any book I’ve ever read;  this historical horror thriller has it all. The historical aspects of the book are based on actual events that occurred in the 13th century, and the locations mentioned actually exist—a bonus to any readers who are also history buffs. (Go here to see photographs and read information about the locations mentioned in the book.) Gracias’ historical research is excellent, and the masterful blending of fact and fiction makes this story even more chilling.

The novel ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but the point it ends on felt like the perfect stopping point, in my opinion. Don’t let that dissuade you from reading this fascinating novel. It’s my understanding that a sequel is in the works, and that’s a good thing because there is plenty more story waiting to be told.

The Devil’s Prayer is an excellent read, and superbly written. I recommend this one highly… add it to your reading list!

Book Reviews

Review: What the Dead Want by Norah Olson

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Gretchen is a 16-year-old photography enthusiast, living in New York City with her oft-absent father. Her mother, renowned owner of the Mona Axton Gallery, disappeared without a trace nearly five years earlier. Gretchen is surprised to receive a call from her Great-Aunt Esther—a woman she doesn’t know—informing her that she is leaving the Axton Mansion, which Gretchen will inherit as the last remaining member of the Axton family. Gretchen agrees to go and help Esther with the house, and the next day she is on her way.

Contrary to her expectations, Gretchen arrives at her family’s ancestral home to find a dilapidated, 150 year old house that appeared ready to collapse. The interior of the house wasn’t any better. Papers and books lay in piles everywhere, and the house was cluttered with countless objects all over the place, looking as if nothing had ever been thrown out once it was brought into the house. Believing she came here to help clean up the house and help Esther move, Gretchen is overwhelmed—then she discovers that’s not the sort of help her Great-Aunt requires of her after all.

The Axton Mansion holds the key to a terrible secret from the past. Somewhere, hidden within old documents, the faded letters and journals of Gretchen’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Fidelia Axton, and horrific photographs from the past lies the answer to an unsolved tragedy that occurred at the nearby church. A tragedy that the dead—and the living—cannot escape, even after 150 years. In order to free them all, Gretchen must discover and expose the truth of the evil deed.

What the Dead Want is a fascinating paranormal young adult mystery. Olson dives into the action almost immediately, and there’s never a dull moment. Gretchen’s story in the present is  interspersed with glimpses into the past,  through the letters and journal entries of Fidelia Axton and other relevant documents. Rather than being an unwelcome interruption, each piece is a crucial part of the story, taking the reader one step closer to solving the mystery.

The one thing that prevents me from giving this beautifully written story a full five-star rating is the inaccurate usage of the word racism. Fidelia uses this word several times in her letters and journals, which were written before and after the American Civil War. It seemed out-of-place as I was reading, and after I finished the novel I looked it up. The original date of its first usage was either in 1902 or 1927. I was unable to find a definitive answer on which date was correct, but either way, it was long after the time period in which it was used in the novel.

I feel very strongly that historical writing must stay true to the time frame it portrays in every way, but especially when it comes to word usage. Using a word that didn’t exist during the time frame you are writing about is a guaranteed way to throw your reader out of the story every time they see it. It’s always an unfortunate thing to run into, but it’s even more disheartening to see it in an otherwise wonderfully written story.

The out-of-place usage of that single word is my only criticism, however, and I still highly recommend this book.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Katherine Tegen Books and Goodreads Giveaways.

Author: Norah Olson

Title: What the Dead Want

Publication: July 26, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books

Rating: ★★★★

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