This is Book One of a planned trilogy. It is a stand alone book and, while there might not be a definitive ending, there is a satisfactory one. A decision has been made. There will be consequences that may be revealed in subsequent novels. For this novel, there will be an end (literally) for several important characters.
An administrative note: There are occasional typos. As another reviewer observed, sometimes an age doesn’t make sense. Something that happened X number of years ago couldn’t have appeared where they appear in the story. For me, the novel was so fast paced and interesting that I wasn’t bothered by these things and didn’t notice them until they were pointed out by other reviewers. I felt a bit guilty because I think of myself as a critical reviewer. Some authors for whom I have reviewed books think of me in that way also.
Without spoiling anything, it might be a good idea to introduce the prominent three characters described in the book title. The Devil The Witch and the Whore by Amy Cross fits in the horror genre. With a title like this, no one should be surprised. The Devil is a character familiar to most readers. Think of a Supreme Being, one who doesn’t get involved in day-to-day operations, except that this one is the opposite of God. The Devil appears throughout the novel through surrogates, the reader will not feel comfortable with the identity of’ the Devil until late in the work. The Witch scares the Devil; she (presumably) is the Devil’s enemy. The Devil must find a way to neutralize the Witch. When the reader meets the Witch for the first time, she is immobilized. Fastened to a chair by a set of several wooden stakes running through her body and into a chair, she slips in and out of consciousness. Not much of a threat, she awaits rescue by the Whore. The Devil knows this. An immediate task is to identify the Whore and then do a lot of grisly things to make sure the Whore doesn’t free the Witch. The Devil doesn’t know who or where the Whore is. The Whore doesn’t know who she is and is unaware of her ultimate mission to free the Witch. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) the reader doesn’t know who the Whore is but can make an educated guess.
The unidentified Whore is defined as a person who has had sex. She is not a prostitute or even promiscuous but she has had sex outside the permission of religion or cultural norms. She has self-guilt but does not accept the judgment of others. The overall conflict is obvious. There will be a “meeting at the OK corral” moment. The novel is terrifying and fascinating because of all the stuff that happens along the way.
Few novels start with such a gruesome prolog. There is a girl pursued by a dark, unidentified stranger. The axe he carries is menacing. More so as the stranger begins to disassemble the girl. We leave these unidentified characters as the girl, speaking through her only body part, a head promises herself that she will survive the night. Some promises are more difficult to keep than others. While this may be the most gruesome chapter, there is competition from some of the later chapters. Amy Cross kindly supplied violent language warnings.
Ramsey is Sheriff Kopperud’s daughter. She doesn’t like her dad much; the alcohol meant more to him than she did. She observed more instances of drunkenness than she wanted; after her mother took her to New York, she heard a lot more from her mother about how cruel her dad had been. Now she was back in Deal and reunited with her friend Leanne. She hadn’t been to see her dad and didn’t want to see him. She planned to spend time with Leanne exploring some of their favorite places from their childhood, such as Devil’s Lookout. Maybe after that Leanne would go home to her dad, the Mayor, and Ramsey would visit her dad, the Sheriff. But that didn’t happen.
After entering the woods the Ramsey fell into a type of sinkhole which deposited her into a series of underground tunnels. It was impossible for Ramsey to leave the tunnels. Leanne went for help. Ramsey was left alone in the tunnels. At least she thought she was alone. She decided to explore a few of the nearby tunnels. And she found out she was not alone. She met Ester and, impossibly, she saw the witch. She should not have been able to see the Witch. She needed to escape.
She will escape. She will meet her father although there will be no immediate reconciliation. Following the story of her escape, Amy Cross takes us on a journey with a series of backstories that will explain to the readers the woods and the histories of several characters who have mysteriously disappeared prior to Ramsey’s homecoming. The reader will meet the mysterious Liam who appears creepy from the first meeting.
This novel is a truncated journey. Enjoyment lies in the process of reading (and for Amy Cross, storytelling). I will read more by this author and recommend this to fans of this genre.