The Devil’s Due: Nothing Is Ever As It Seems Edited by Adam Messer
From Valhalla Books comes The Devil’s Due: Nothing Is Ever As It Seems, in which the editor Adam Messer introduces us to 13 tales from various authors (including his own story) where the Devil always gets his way. Each story is so unique, I had a difficult time choosing my favorites. This collection deserves so much credit, and it is one of my favorite reads of the year. One of the best things about The Devil’s Due, is that these stories take place all over the world, across different periods of time. Stories range from current day, to the Gold Rush in the West, to Victorian Scotland, small middle-of-nowhere religious towns, fairytale forests with talking animals, nightclubs, corporations, to even Abraham Lincoln’s post presidency.
The Devil never rests in these stories, and one would do well to stay away from things that are too good to be true. Honestly, I also enjoyed the forward in this as well. Ryan Dunn talks about The Devil and his need to collect in pop culture. This is a running theme in movies, such as Crossroads with Ralph Macchio, which is an excellent movie about playing the blues (which I own the soundtrack on vinyl). The theme occurs in music as well, with the infamous 27 club and many artists actually playing music at night in cemeteries and crossroads, in hopes of meeting the Devil themselves.
I will highlight some of my favorite stories below.
The Resurrection and the Life by Jude Reid
In 1875 in Glasgow, Scotland, young Alec Duffy is in his final semester of studying to be a doctor. After a skirmish that ends badly, Alec finds himself in the debt of a madam of a whorehouse. Countless tragedies follow as Alec must do the madam’s bidding. This was a unique take on the theme of this anthology and one of the longer works in the collection. This story appealed to me as a fan of Frankenstein and Penny Dreadful. I love a great period piece, especially when it involves horror like this. Dismal, bleak, and cold, with touch of “mad doctor” is a perfect winter read right now. The Resurrection and the Life was a solid opening by Reid.
Genevieve and the owl by Mark Allan Gunnells
I have read some work by Gunnells before, and Genevieve and owl was written like a dark version of a fairytale, with a fantastic ending. Genevieve is mistreated by her father and brothers, beaten and seen as a slave to them, and Genevieve has had enough. When an owl offers to grant her a wish, Genevieve takes things into her own hands, causing a chain of events that seem almost calculated to precision. This one leaves you wondering, who is the real manipulator in this tale? Although Gunnells sets his story in a whimsical woodland and quaint village, the Devil still finds a way to leave his mark.
Face It by Carol Gyzander
I looooved Face It by Carol Gyzander! A shitty husband named Connor is tired of the pain and suffering his wife is going through. It’s killing their social life! His rationale for his unspeakable hatred is weak, thus when he chooses his course of action, it is like a batman signal for Satan to show up. Like a conniving Jacob Marley, Satan offers another chance for Connor to redeem himself, but in keeping with the theme of The Devil’s Due, you can be sure that Satan will collect on this one. Gyzander did a fantastic job of writing a despicable character. Even when he thought he was a saint, the reader still hates Connor with every fiber of their being.
Dante’s Tenth by Bobby Nash
Dante’s Tenth by Bobby Nash takes place during the Westward Expansion when everyone was looking to cash in on the Gold Rush, with the belief of “manifest destiny”. Dante is a small town in Arizona, where the Native Americans were run out of their land and even the Devil has come to settle. Tobias West and Elizabeth Perth are two writers from New York setting up a local newspaper. When they set to interview the newest residents, a doctor and his family, Tobias is anxious to meet the mysterious daughter. Sprinkle in a suspicious priest, racism, and sharp teeth, and soon the reader will find the only thing manifesting here is evil. I could read an entire book on this story line alone. I will definitely be needing a part 2 from Bobby Nash.
The Known and True History of the Djinn by Adam Messer
My last tale to discuss is The Known and True History of the Djinn by Adam Messer. Jonathan Crinshaw goes to the library (basement of course!) to do research for his horror novel. He’s not having much luck finding what he needs, till a mysterious book piques his interest. The djinn inside the book is summoned forth by Jonathan, and is able to grant Jonathan anything he wishes. Of course with any deal made in this anthology, a debt always has to be paid, and Jonathan Crinshaw will learn that soon enough. This was a great conclusion to the collection, and I enjoyed learning about the Djinn, a being I was not familiar with before this story.
Adam Messer is a very busy man, whom I have gotten the opportunity to converse with over the past few weeks. All of Adam’s projects can be accessed here. He also hosts his own radio show in Savannah! He’s written various works as well as a children’s coloring book. I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to read his latest work, The Devil’s Due: Nothing Is Ever As It Seems, and I hope that you will pick up a copy to enjoy yourself. It is available on Kindle and Paperback. There are stories for all tastes in this collection, and some very talented writers!
5 stars from me!!
The Weevil Dead