Tuesday 30 August 2011


You might think you know all about Anne Fine and her books. She's the wicked dissector of social mores. She's the hilarious creator of books like Bill's New Frock and Diary of a Killer Cat. She's the person who knows everything there is to know about families of every kind. She was an excellent Children's Laureate. She's a tireless promoter of good books for everyone. She's sharp and clever and witty and also, along with the precision of her analysis of relationships, tender-hearted and anxious for every unhappy child in the world.

But it doesn't do to take her for granted or think you've got her classified. She's diversified again. The proof that she can turn her hand to anything and make it her own is to be seen in her latest book, Thttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhe Devil Walks.

If you go to Anne's website (apologies...I haven't been able to put in a link so I'm afraid you'll have to Google her!) and follow the links there to some interviews, she talks about the genesis of this novel, which is a Gothic tale of a young boy who is, as Anne puts it "horribly orphaned" and then undergoes more torments than a young lad should ever have to deal with when he's sent away from his kind adoptive family and has to live with the wicked uncle of all wicked uncles.

There are all the elements here of a great scary read. A big house. An old dolls' house, hints of voodoo and worse, possible evil residing in all kinds of unexpected places, a garden with a maze in it, hidden things, things that aren't what they seem at first: Fine deals herself a full hand of the Gothic imagery and trappings but if the book were no more than a collection of special effects, it wouldn't be the wonderful book it is.

What makes it really good is the emotional heart of the story, which deals with the way we find love in a hostile world. It tells us, among the frights we have to endure, about the persistence of goodness in opposition to evil, and of kindness and benevolence sharing the world with the dark things that abound in it. It's written in the first person in the most convincing Victorian style which nevertheless is miles away from fusty and difficult. Any child picking up this book will understand every word. The language is simple and it's precisely this simplicity which makes the the horrors appear even more frightening. A really terrific read for anyone of any age who loves a creepy tale which is more than just smoke and mirrors.

Doubleday hbk £10.99 ISBN:9780857530646



adele said...

I have TWICE tried to make the link to Anne's website a live link. And failed twice too. Just put her name into Google and you'll get there. Apologies for imcompetence. I'll seek advice before the next time!

adele said...

Have done it...hats off to Roger C.

adele said...

Sorry to be the only commenter here. Thought I had done it but it doesn't work. Will go back and try again!

adele said...

Again, me! Sorry...can't spare the time to deal with this problem now. Just google Anne Fine and you'll find her website and follow links to stuff about this ace book!

Roger Cornwell said...

It's not you: a lot of people have been having this problem, see this Google Support forum. Seems Google has it in for Firefox, part of their plan to make us all change to Chrome I guess.

Penny Dolan said...

I hadn't spotted that this book was coming out so thank you for talking about it. Anne Fine is a wicked writer, who creates terrific dialogue - and I'm sure her style suits the gothic theme most excellently.

(And thanks to Roger too. Sometimes these IT thingys act like naughty toddlers. They close their mouths tightly and just REFUSE!)

Elen C said...

I also didn't know about it, so will pop it on my TBR pile.
I fixed the link too, as I was scheduling a review of my own.

Rosalie Warren said...

I love Anne Fine's work too, and will be looking out for this one!

adele said...

Thanks Elen for fixing that link..belatedly!

Unknown said...

I recently finished reading this book and decided to write up my own thoughts in a blog post too in my The Devil Walks Book Review

I loved the spooky offset of this book and look forward to checking out similar ones in the future!

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