Sunday, October 16, 2011

The White Devil by Justin Evans

Andrew Taylor thinks his luck has taken a turn for the worse—and quite rightly too it turns out--when his father sends him to London to attend The Harrow School an elite 400 year-old boarding school where the students, all born to wealth and privilege, wear the same style jackets, ties, and straw hats that students wore in the 19th century. It’s a whole new world for American Andrew with the different customs and accents and he finds it very hard to fit in. And when the boy who befriended him on his first day dies under mysterious circumstances Andrew is blamed and shunned as a rumor begins circulating that he gave the boy drugs that caused his death, even though the autopsy soon disproves this.

When another student notices that Andrew bears an uncanny resemblance to Lord Byron, one of Harrow’s most famous past students, he is cast as the lead in the school play. But things keep getting stranger and Andrew wonders if he is losing his mind when he starts having bizarre dreams, visions of, and perhaps ghostly visitations from, a pale effeminate boy with white-blonde hair. Research and clues lead Andrew to identify his nocturnal visitor as John Harness, a poor scholarship or charity student who attended the school during Byron’s time there. Byron took John under his wing, defended him against bullies, and the two eventually became lovers. Is the ghost confused and mistaking Andrew for Byron?

Then the past begins to repeat itself when the ghost mistakes Andrew’s girlfriend for a boy and thinks Byron is betraying him all over again, and Andrew must race against time to solve a 200 year old mystery, to save the lives of his classmates, friends, and teachers as the vengeful spirit unleashes a plague of deadly tuberculosis upon them.

I love ghost stories and this is one of the best I have read in a long time. I thought it breathed new life into the genre and I loved the way it mixed the past and present, the way history and its mysteries and facts long buried, forgotten and obscured by the passage of time, were unearthed or forced their way to the surface to demand confrontation. It blows the dust off the old familiar haunted school stories and gives the reader something novel and new.

1 comment:

CelticLady said...

Sounds interesting Brandy!!