Bryan was 10 when his brother, Adam, just . . . disappeared. That was five years ago, and now Bryan is the only one who seems to remember what happened.
Until he meets two others with their own unsolved mysteries. It seems that Adam isn’t the first to disappear. Someone or something is after the kids in their neighborhood.
The adults can’t hear it, and they can’t see it or feel it—but the kids can. And it all comes back to the skipping rhyme that every child in town knows by heart . . . and the Dark Man who haunts everyone’s worst nightmares—while they’re awake. (goodreads.com)
PaperBackSwap is a wonderful website and it’s where I was able to get this book. I tend to pile the whole of my Want list onto that website just in case one may pop up. It’s a good place for horror and I have to say I was pleased with what I read in DEVIL’S FOOTSTEPS.
Bryan is having a really hard time with life seeing how he still hasn’t coped with his older brother’s disappearance five years previous. His parents aren’t helping since they’re locked in their own world of melancholia and pay him little mind. But is this the tragedy’s doing or is something more sinister at work, forcing people to turn away from the problem, ignore it, while it continues on? Bryan and his friends, Stephen and Jake, work to figure this out and they may even get themselves in over their heads.
DEVIL’S FOOTSTEPS is definitely creepy, twisting a skipping rhyme into something sinister, something more than a school yard plaything and something that could potentially call up the devil. Like Bloody Mary, you’re fearless if you want to try and dispel the myth, however you may just end up disappearing in your effort. The things that these boys go through, mentally and physically, are things of nightmares. I liked the concept that Richardson kept coming back to, where small rooms distorted into something larger, cavernous, more difficult to escape. Almost agoraphobic in its application, being out of reach of safety when you know you’re in a small little cubby of space. She used this a lot (I shouldn’t say a lot but it was definitely more than once) and it came off as scary every time.
I also liked how this horror was far more psychological than anything else, and she wasn’t shy about warping the brains of these children to get across just how terrifying this all was. Seeing their loved ones impaled on hooks, having to worry about monsters around corners or a perfectly fine day turning to darkness all in the space of someone’s head, it really amped up the fear factor of the story.
I wasn’t too thrilled with the ending because it did get rather sugary about overcoming tragedy and being strong and working through things but I liked the elements Bryan had to work through in order to get to that point. The things done to him within his own head would have broken far sturdier people but he persevered. All wasn’t right with the world in the end but the Dark Man was relegated back to his darkness and the blinders were finally lifted on Bryan’s little town. People other than those who actually saw the Dark Man were finally able to see what was going on, and that was really the objective all along.
I guess I wasn’t all that stoked about the concept of the Dark Man either, mainly because not much came of him in terms of back story and his explanation toward the end fell a little flat for me. But his idea, that he snatches children if they deign to get too close, is scary. And relevant. Still I could have lived without the moralizing at the end but it did wrap up the story nicely and the characters had to go through some trials to get there so I can’t complain too much. Plus it’s YA horror that I can get behind so all the better.