The book-bound demon has been freed, and in his wake he will leave a sea of ink and blood.
Synopsis: When Tess and Eliot, an unlikely pair, accidentally unleash a demon in the school library – it decides it wants to stay free. Tess soon finds the demon has an interest in her, and will threaten everything and everyone she loves to get what it wants.
CW/TW (May contain Spoilers): blood, gore, self-harm (unintentional), descriptions of death/decay, vomit, decapitation, child abuse, parental illness -> https://toribovalino.com/the-devil-makes-three.
The Devil Makes Three, by Tori Bovalino is a creepy, haunting and beautifully written story. Bovalino has incredibly atmospheric and evocative prose that perfectly captures the tension and unsettling aura that persists throughout this book. Bovalino’s prose is easy to read and connect with and yet is intensely rich – from her vivid descriptions to her mastery of imagery, she truly brings the story to life much like conjuring the ink straight from the page and crafting it into an image. Not to mention the perfect balance between the beauty and horror in the story. From the messy personal beauty of instrument/music filled rooms, to book filled offices, to the horror of the devil’s power and his not quite perfect appearance. All of this combines to create a well paced, and evocative story full of tension and horror.
The prose and pace of the story is well supported by the narrative choices. We get three perspectives throughout the book: Tess’, Eliot’s and a third occasional narrative voice. The multiple perspectives all worked very well to build the characters and progress the story. With Tess and Eliot’s narratives exploring their different lifestyle’s but own unique problem’s and trauma’s, it made the characters more realistic and added depth to them both. The third perspective was surprising and yet added more mystery to the book, it gave it a more unsettling and supernatural tone that was interesting. Focusing on multiple perspectives allowed us to really feel the slow-burn between Tess and Eliot, as well as allowing us to glimpse the secrets they both hide from the other and how they slowly grow close enough to trust the other. It added tension and aided the pace well, while also allowing us to connect better with both characters.
The plot/story is equally as mesmerising as the prose itself. I can’t talk too much about the plot because it is easily spoiled but it revolves around Jessop Library – an elite schools library that is surround by rumours of being haunted. Tess and Eliot make a bargain in which they both end up discovering an old grimoire. Creepy old spell book, in a library with haunting rumours, and hints to magic – what could go wrong? Well, the two students unknowingly release a demon and the demon wants freedom. Horror then ensues! Tess becomes the demons prime target,, but the why is unknown, and the demon adopts Eliot’s face to get closer to her.
The atmosphere is perfect in this book, the spooky library vibes had me thoroughly engaged. The tension is also well executed, with build up to horrifying event, plenty of shock and twists and disturbing events that will have you horrified and enthralled. My absolute favourite part had to be how Bovalino utilised the library throughout the plot. Not only do we get research and dark academia vibes, we also get some very interesting and horrifying uses for Ink. I actually loved this, never have I been so disturbed by something as harmless as ink. The horror elements really were executed well and doesn’t shy away from gore either, we get very gothic vibes from parts of the horror mixed in with some outright disturbing descriptions. I also liked how the book ends/wraps up, how some things were tackled, others were left open, it was realistic for the characters and doubled as an effective conclusion to the story.
The human elements of the book were handled pretty well, with the characters having human struggles alongside the released demon. I liked watching how these issues were handled and explored throughout the story, it kept it grounded without losing the supernatural feel of the horror.
The characters were, overall, compelling and realistic – easy to connect with and had depth to them. Tess was interesting, I liked watching her journey as an older sister trying to do what is best for her younger sister. I also liked her dry wit and sarcasm, she wasn’t afraid to call Eliot out on his privilege and I thought her internal struggles contrasted with her external ones worked well to create tension, especially elements surrounding her playing the Cello. Eliot was equally compelling, his outer look contrasting with his true personality. I also liked that he immediately addresses his own behaviour when called out on it by Tess, something we see rarely in YA. Eliot’s own personal issues, especially with his mother, really played on the heart and made him all the more lovable.
Finally, the demon himself was quite compelling too. I’m a sucker for almost but not-quite human looking monsters, and the devil was indeed a monster. But, Bovalino managed to add depth to this murderous devil which was surprising and engaging. I liked how this was handled throughout the story too.
Overall, this was an engaging mix of horror, dark academia, and human struggles. It was atmospheric, tense and shocking, adequately horrifying and evocative, and yet intensely emotional and compelling. A fantastic YA horror/thriller read.
*I received a #Netgalley eARC from #TitanBooks in exchange for an honest review – Thank you!*