There comes a time in every readers life – not often, and only rarely – when you read a book that changes your perspective on the genre. Horror, for me, has been my solace, my go-to genre for many a decade, but it’s rare that a book has an impact on you so heavily, so amazingly, that you realise you spent 5 hours on it and realise “holy shit, that was epic.” Devils Day; like Flesh by Laymon, Persuader by Lee Child and The Shining by King – the three other books to do this to me – is one of those novels.
I was honoured to read this book as a beta reader. I’ve got to know Kyle over several months as we’ve both traversed the world of self publishing. When he offered me a copy, I said yes. The premise is simple. Blackhaven, mid 80’s, is a town celebrating Halloween. The town has a secret, one that lingers in folklore and dark tale, told by neighbours to their kids to scare them. Then, one fateful year as told by old Mr Winslow – ignored by many as hokum – the tale happens. The world cracks open and spawns forth the purest of evil, beasts of Satan who want the people of Blackhaven for themselves, to settle an ancient pact. Let the slaughter commence.
This book is pure 80’s horror fiction/movie lore. From the first sentence, I was hooked. Several times in the book, Kyle writes and prods you before unleashing some utterly amazing and extremely graphic horror. Several times, as discussed with a fellow beta reader, I was like “Will he really go there?” And he did, many times, so many I commended him for doing so. I said 80’s horror movies. Anyone remember the video nasty? This would have been one of them. People are mutilated, shredded, disembowled, torn to pieces and – in one particularly nasty scene – ‘aborted’ in a way you don’t ever want to happen. I don’t pause for gore often but at this scene, I put the book down and applauded. Yes, it was graphic, but it was done with style, portraying the enemies in this book as unstoppable, uncaring, killing machines. Fear, it seems, can still exist in the written word. Think The Terminator’s MO with claws and you’re half-way there.
The characters are vivid and many too. Whole families seamlessly weave into the plot. By the halfway mark, we are following a whole arc of characters, two dozen at times, and we don’t get lost or confused. Occasionally you wonder why some of them are introduced but then it becomes obvious: Cannon fodder. People need to die and this is one of those books that relishes in the death scenes, the monsters going to ‘town’ – pardon the pun – on the locals standing in their way. When the characters decide to fight back, against impossible odds, you rally for them, cheer for them and punch the air in delight. Each character has his place, some cliché (but hey, this is the 80’s, it works) and some repugnant. The monsters are kept mysterious, they come in all shapes and sizes and can be anywhere at any time. This only adds to the paranoia, bringing an element that at any time, they will turn up to kill. It’s pure film material but to name any movies to compare this to would ruin the book. It’s that damn good.
The book also has a dark vein of humour running through it. It’s the darkest of dark, one few will find funny. However, mixed with this is originality. Characters break tropes, fight back, defend their town. Some die where they wouldn’t in the movies or other books and this is fine, it’s a boundary Kyle is willing to cross to portray his antagonists as pure evil. Would they spare a kid standing in their way? No. Does anyone get a free pass? Nope. For the first time in a long while, I felt I was reading a realistic horror. Sure, the world might not open up and spawn evil monsters any time soon, but if it did, this book would be an accurate portrayal of it. So often, characters survive because they’re young, innocent or a dog, heaven forbid. In Devil’s Day, no one is safe. It’s this one thing that keeps you reading, fearing for the characters and by the end of the book, you’re like ‘wow’.
5* – I would give more stars if possible. Straight in at my favourite book of the year. This book has everything for the extreme horror fan. And the book is released today, so grab a copy and dive in. Kyle M. Scott has created a wonderful horror tale, one that breaks down all the barriers and stands alone as a beast amongst men. Several set pieces will drop your jaw to the floor – a chilling cornfield hide and seek, a free-for-all in the street between the monsters and several survivors, and that bloody crime scene are only the start of what is sure to be one of the horror sleeper hits of the year. Devil’s Day is a phenomenal read and essential viewing. Get your copy now!