How far would you go to become part of a community? What secrets would you be willing to keep? And what things would you be willing to do?
Andrew Michael Hurley’s second book, Devil’s Day, is a dark tale of life in Briardale Valley – a small, insular village where everyone sticks to tradition, no matter what. The reader is taken on a journey through the moors where the protagonist, John Pentecost, once lived.
The story opens with John telling his blind 10-year-old son, Adam, about life in the village. Through his story, we learn what really happened the autumn John returned to the farm.
John had been one of the few who had managed to leave Briardale Valley – a feat only a handful of residents manage to achieve. Living a peaceful life with his new wife, Katherine, John had seemed contented enough – until he was forced to return to the Lancashire farm of his childhood to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
After seeing his father at the farm, John is convinced he has to leave his new life behind and return to the valley to continue his family’s legacy. Katherine, however, is more than keen to leave the place behind. She is pregnant with their first child and doubts she can survive the hardships of farm life. But John is adamant, convinced that their purpose is to continue the future of their family’s farm.
John now faces the people he had left behind and the rituals that they complete every year. One in particular is called Devil’s Day. A communal ritual driven along by folk tales and family stories, the farm folk believe such a ritual keeps the sheep safe from the Devil. As the story continues, the Devil moves from creature to creature, then from animals to humans – leaving a trail of destruction behind.
Is the farm safe? Is the Devil’s Day just that – a ritual that everyone partakes in every year? Or is it based on truth? Does the Devil really run amongst the living?
Hurley creates a depressing and creepy atmosphere of a place where residents are willing to do anything they can to protect their lands. Sins from the past and the future intersect, painting an even bleaker portrait of valley life.
Throughout the book, Hurley continually drags you down into the deep recesses of doubt and horror. Devil’s Day will keep you guessing until the end.
Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective and creative director of 3C Digital. Her first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was published in 2016. Book Two, The Girl Between Light and Dark, is set for release this year.