Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

I received this book from TCK Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

“It is a long wait, hence I’m writing in this journal for you, my dearest Raelyn. I apologize for not listening to you, but I was left with no other choice,” (Hault 2).

Told in epistolary style, The Devil’s Whispers follows British lawyer Gerard Woodhouse is asked to assist the dying Lord Mathers in a Welsh castle, much to the worry of his fiancée Dr. Raelyn Atherton. Finding himself locked in his room with his journal as his only companion Gerard documents his time in the strange and haunting castle, while similarly in London Raelyn, her friend Jayda, Father Malcolm, and a cast of other characters document a strange viciousness that stalks London and could be related to the Mathers castle.

I’m going to start this review off right off the bat by saying I’m going to spoil some things. I’ll give a warning right before I do, but I can’t write this review without giving away spoilers.

The Devil’s Whispers claims itself as a Gothic novel, perfect for fans of “DraculaFrankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray,” and I understand why. If you’re trying to market a Gothic horror, you’re going to use some good Gothic classics for comparison. And honestly I’ll give credit where credit is do, The Devil’s Whispers is well written. Hault does an excellent job writing in the epistolary style and really gets the Gothic voice down which made for an enjoyable reading experience. The problem is, this story isn’t original. You could make the excuse that Hault is using tropes from the genre as an homage to a work so similarities are inevitable. It would be a weak excuse but it’s  one that can be mad. But when the work actually pretends to be original while being anything but it just comes across as laughable, juvenile, and frustratingly disappointing.

SPOILERS BELOW

The Devil’s Whispers takes a lot from Dracula, the similarities obvious the moment Jonathan Gerard starts referencing his fiancée Mina Raelyn in his journal. He is taken by carriage and hears strange noises on the way to Dracula’s Mathers castle and is then subsequently locked in his room with no way to escape while his fiancée Mina Raelyn worries about his whereabouts. Eventually, horrors begin to occur around London with certain characters becoming possessed and enthralled by the beautifully deadly vampire Xana who drink the blood of their victims, enchant their victims by biting them, and threaten to infiltrate London through soil vases and other finery they bring into the possession of their victims. The vampires Xana only weaknesses are garlic onions, crosses, holy water, and other religious symbolism. Later Mina Raelyn gets bitten by a vampire Xana and becomes enchanted by one and must be saved by Jonathan Gerard and their allies.

Do you understand why this story frustrated me, no matter how enticing the voice was?

Another thing that completely infuriated me was the portrayal of the Xana, which are more similar to fairies and mermaids than vampires. While Hault includes some of the Xana mythology with the creatures in his novel, he adds vampire mythos like the bloodlust and the aversion to Christian symbols which is not related to the Xana. While there are scenes in the book wth Xana and water it makes little sense that these creatures are walking around and so far from water. At least in Dracula there’s an explanation and reason for how vampires travelled from Eastern Europe to London, Hault doesn’t give an explanation for how the Spanish Xana ended up in Wales, doesn’t even mention their Spanish origin except for one of them being named Maria. Again, I can understand using a different creature instead of vampires, but if Hault was so keen to have the Xana display vampiric qualities why not use a similarly vampiric creature? Hell, a succubus makes more sense than a Xana!

END OF SPOILERS

The Devil’s Whispers biggest strength is it’s Gothic voice but offers a weak attempt at originality which made for a disappointing and frustrating read.

41thmhmwaRL._SY346_Publication: February 20th 2022
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Pages: 241 pages (PDF)
Source: TCK Publishing (Thanks!)
Genre: Fiction, Epistolary, Gothic, Horror
My Rating:
Summary:

Famed British lawyer Gerard Woodward is summoned to an ancient Welsh castle to assist a dying lord in his final affairs. But as his host slips closer to death, Gerard begins to feel less like a guest and more like a prisoner. When he finds himself locked inside his room, he realizes he must escape.

After finding his way out of his room, Gerard begins to wonder if he was safer locked inside. The labyrinthine halls echo secrets. A terrible wail and the rattling of chains sets his nerves on end. Something sinister is happening within the walls of Mathers Castle, and when he descends into the dungeons, he discovers a horrible secret…

In nearby London, children vanish into the night, animals are horribly mutilated, and a savage creature stalks the shadows. When Gerard’s wife, Raelyn, becomes the creature’s next target, his need to escape reaches a fever pitch. He must get out alive so he can dispel the evil that threatens to destroy his beloved Raelyn… and the rest of us.

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