When I first held the novel The Devil’s Whispers in my hands, I was immediately thrilled to see the influence of classic horror. Lucas Hault not only promises to entertain and terrify but to mesmerize and mystify with the power of his story-weaving. As a fan of classic horror, I could not help but follow Mr. Hault along this dark and compelling journey.
In Cardiff, the men are drained of their blood and semen, while infant children suffer from starvation despite being fed. Soon, it is whispered in hushed tones that the source of the unnatural phenomena resides within the Lord’s castle, where Gerard Woodward, a British lawyer of sound repute, travels to aid the patriarch with his final arrangements. But unfortunately, Gerard’s profession has made him an unwilling pawn for a malevolent purpose.
Lucas Hault delivers a unique story in epistolary writing composed of several first-person narratives in letters, journal entries, and telegrams. Although the prose used by each character is similar, their individual qualities are well developed. For example, Raelyn Atherton, Gerard’s fiancé, is a woman of esteem and a physician. Although she is concerned for her fiancé when communications stop, she is continually devoted to her care for others. Raelyn is an essentially strong, intelligent woman dedicated to her soon-to-be husband. Furthermore, Father Malcolm Isaac Simpson is not only a spiritual leader who consoles those in times of distress, he is also a supernatural investigator who collects information using his subordinates to understand what may be endangering humanity and how to best combat it.
The suspense generated compels readers to combine events and evidence, solving the mysteries connected to the darkness. The enemy is elusive, cunning, and has much power over men. Father Malcolm, Gerard Woodward, and others play a dangerous game of chess as events unfold during the strategic battle between the sacred and the profane. Silence and secrecy are both a strength and weaknesses.
One of the antagonists is especially interesting. It is a supernatural beast known only to few as “the Xana”. These creatures are exceedingly deceitful and notably portray themselves as beautiful young women. They can lull their prey into a false sense of security, allowing them to lure people away into the darkness of the night. Some are possessed by these beings, while others feasted upon until death. What makes the Xana formidable is that they can vanish so quickly that none are entirely sure what they have seen, and their bite will transmit its abilities and properties into their victims.
What I did not enjoy about this story is that although Lucas Hault indeed pays honor and respect for Bram Stoker’s Dracula in his tale, it is noticeably similar. Gothic horror indeed requires specific elements, such as dark atmospheres, castles, mystery, and features of the supernatural in its stories. However, many plot points in Dracula are used in The Devil’s Whispers from the odd carriage ride to the castle, being trapped within the said castle, and several more, which will not be stated as that would spoil the story entirely. Nevertheless, I feel that Lucas Hault can create great gothic horror that does not heavily borrow from another. Unfortunately, I could not get past the increasing similarities to enjoy this written work fully.
Positively, I thoroughly enjoyed that Raelyn Atherton is just one of the strong, independent women in this tale. The heroines choose to act without the need for a male escort. Mr. Hault shares a quote from author Mary Shelley, which essentially states the wish for women to have power over themselves instead of having control over men. Therefore, I can say that The Devil’s Whispers deviates from the classic damsel in distress trope in an admirable way for a modern sensibility. I also enjoyed how the protagonists portray and demonstrate the ideal Christian behavior by aiding those in need, seeking comfort in prayer, acknowledging, and giving thanks to God in all things, all to the point that an agnostic character is converted to Christianity.
I would recommend this story to all fans of horror. The Devil’s Whispers is its own story that deserves recognition. Unfortunately, as stated earlier, I could not get past the similarities to enjoy this written work fully, but it may indeed serve as a respectful homage or an induction point to those unfamiliar with classical literature. The author absolutely has the prose and potential for a more bold endeavour in the future – I will be following their subsequent projects eagerly.
The Devils Whispers written by Lucas Hault is available as a physical book and an e-book, published via TCK Publishing. Readers can find this story on Amazon, Barns and Nobel, and wherever books are sold. The local library may also have a copy or two to lend as well.
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