Andrew Taylor has been kicked out of a Connecticut boarding school and sent to Harrow School in England with orders to get his act together. If he blows it again, he’s on his own. The only new Sixth Former (senior) at Harrow, Andrew is having trouble fitting in. And when he witnesses the murder of a new friend under mysterious circumstances, things get even worse. But then the only girl at Harrow – the daughter of the headmaster – notices Andrew’s uncanny resemblance to Lord Byron, who attended Harrow in the early 1900’s. She urges him to try out for the role of Byron in the school play, written by Piers Fawkes, a master who’s also a poet. Andrew experiences very realistic dreams where a white-haired boy murders someone and begins to realize the dreams are visions of something that happened back in Byron’s time. As more of his friends are put in danger by the Lot ghost, Andrew must find out what he wants and how to get him to stop.
The White Devil is Justin Evans’s second novel. I was surprised to find out that Evans is a strategy and business development executive as he’s quite talented with the written word. He took the basics of real events and seamlessly wove in a believable ghost tale. It’s true that Byron attended Harrow and had close “friendships” with younger classmates. Homosexuality was not only frowned upon in England at the turn of the century, but often resulted in public hangings.
While the antagonist of The White Devil is a ghost, the book is more than a ghost story, it’s about fighting your own personal demons; letting those around you help you get past those demons. It falls quite nicely into the literary fiction category with amazing imagery, use of color and language. The story begins slowly but picks up steam along the way and I soon found I couldn’t put it down. There were occasions however of American idioms when I’d expect English: torch instead of flashlight, for instance. The book is set in England, and all characters except Andrew are English, so it was a bit distracting to see fag (for cigarette) on one page and highway instead of motorway on the next. I don’t know if this was intentional or just a by-product of an American writing a book set in England.
My small nitpick aside, The White Devil was an enjoyable novel that kept me on the edge of my seat, not quite sure exactly what would happen next.
Nancy likes being spooked every once in a while. She writes about her 2 boys and life in Colorado at Life With My Boys.