- Megan Bingham
Deer Valley, Oregon. You could call it quiet. You could call it quaint. The residents of Deer Valley lead normal, everyday lives.
That is until Jude Brighton, the town's young troublemaker, goes missing. Everyone in town knows that the first 48 hours of a missing person case are the most important, but now he's been missing for three days without any clue of his whereabouts. Stevie Clark, Jude's cousin and best friend, presume Jude ran deep into the woods surrounding Deer Valley, deeper than either of them have ever gone. But there are stories about the woods—about the evil that lurks there. This very same evil could be related to another mysterious disappearance that occurred years earlier. While the residents of Deer Valley look for young Jude, they hope he doesn't end up like that unfortunate victim—half eaten and beaten by an unknown assailant.
Then, almost as quickly as he disappeared, Jude reappears. Deer Valley is happy and can rest a little easier. But Stevie knows something is wrong with his friend, perhaps the only friend he's ever known. Although Jude has never been very nice to his cousin, Stevie knows that Jude has changed for the worse. As the narrative unfolds, we get a glimpse at what is really lurking in the wood's shadows and why.
Ania Ahlborn's new supernatural thriller, The Devil Crept In, takes us on a wild ride between the threshold of reality and the surreal. The book's first narrator, Stevie, is someone we can relate to, especially his hardships in growing up. He is struggling to get through school with persistent stuttering and, shockingly, missing fingers, due to an accident as a child. He lives with a timid mother, a cruel and disgusting stepfather, and a teasing older brother who loves nothing but basketball and girls. Because of our omniscient view of Stevie's life, by the time we get to know Jude, there is an automatic an acceptance that something is off about him. This notion clouds our judgment of what may be really happening, but in a rather crafty way on Ahlborn's part. When the second narration of the story ends, we have an idea of what may be going on with Jude or, at least, we think we do.
The Devil Crept In is not a supernatural thriller whose outcome you will expect. Its horror-fueled storyline leads us deep into the dark woods surrounding Deer Valley, which is not at all what it seems to be. For fans of John Darnielle's Universal Harvester and Paul Tremblay's Disappearance at Devil's Rock, Ahlborn's The Devil Crept In will keep you up at night, waiting to find out what nightmare will be revealed next.