The Devil in Silver
The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(I received an advance copy of this book.)

Well, what can I say. It took me forever to finish this book. It starts out well enough: a good-hearted thug named Pepper is wrongly committed to a psychiatric hospital, and he encounters an entity that some believe is the Devil. Cool!

But then I got bogged down in the middle of it, where it began to crawl like molasses, as though the author rambles without knowing where the story should go next. Where is the Devil? Instead of seeing more of that story, we get an entire chapter about the life of Van Gogh and several chapters about a unit romance. This might be interesting if it wasn’t so forgettable and meaningless to how the story started. The characters all verge on being quite interesting, but we never quite get to know them well enough to love or hate or miss them if they are suddenly taken away.

I am not sure where this book fits. It’s really NOT horror, though parts of it read that way; it’s not a thriller, as it is painfully slow in some parts and makes no sense in others; it’s a not really a character-driven book and kind of loses track of some of the interesting personae.

In the end, it seems it might not have been the Devil at all. Then, is the book really a commentary on society in general and psychiatric care specifically?

I’m left stumped and rather disappointed. There are glimpses of really terrific observation and writing here, but it’s rather like a first draft, not having been edited for flow and best content. (Yes, I know this was an advance, unedited copy, as evidenced by the typos, missing words, extra words, and so on – but you’d think the STORY would be finished.) There are also disturbing missteps, like the author addressing readers directly many times, jarring them from their story experience.

All in all, this was not one of my favorite reads of the year.

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