Published by Duckworth Overlook
My name’s Henry Dudlow.
I’m fifteen and a half. And I’m cursed. Or damned. Take your pick.
The reason? I see demons.
So begins the latest thriller by horror master Dave Zeltserman. The setting is quiet Newton, MA, where nothing ever happens. Nothing, that is, until two months after Henry Dudlow’s 13th birthday, when his neighbour, Mr. Hanley, suddenly starts to look different. While everyone else sees a balding man with a beer belly, Henry suddenly sees a nasty, bilious, rage filled demon. Once Henry catches onto the real Mr. Hanley, he starts to see demons all around him, and his boring, adolescent life is transformed. There s no more time for friends or sports or the lovely Sally Freeman Henry must work his way through ancient texts and hunt down the demons before they kill any more innocent children. And if hunting demons is hard at any age, it s borderline impossible when your parents are on your case, and your grades are getting worse, and you can t tell anyone about your mission. A very scary thriller written with verve and flashes of great humour, The Boy Who Killed Demons is Dave Zeltserman’s most accomplished and entertaining horror novel yet.
On my recent visit to the London Book Fair I happened upon the Duckworth Overlook stand and one book jacket stood out loud and proud above everything else I’d seen. The title told me everything I needed to know and if, the book promised to deliver everything it said on the tin, then I was pretty sure I was in for a good thrill ride.
I wasn’t disappointed.
In fact I’m now keen to seek out everything else that this author has written in the past, as I think I’ve been missing a trick. As a long term fan of dark fiction and, in particular, tales in which deadly creatures inhabit the very same world in which we live, the whole premise of this book appealed to me in a big way. Told in the form of a journal written by fifteen and a half-year-old Henry, The Boy who Killed Demons is a worthy addition to what has almost become a sub-genre of horror fiction, which often can also create some great movies (Jacob’s Ladder and Heartless sprang to mind whilst I was reading). I found the book to also be akin to Horns by Joe Hill, for the angst that the author puts his central character through with the sights that he sees and tries to reason with.
Life’s tough enough for a teenage boy such as Henry, discovering what it means to be in love, dealing with aggressors within his school life, and that’s without the additional worries of following the news of stolen young children and counting and recording the demons that he sees. There are some great pop culture references throughout the book, with regular nods to John Carpenter movies such as They Live and to comic books, with a certain Spiderman edition playing a major part in the storyline.
The Boy who Killed Demons is a quest for Henry, a journey for him to discover who he really is and what he is destined to do.
Like some of the better found-footage horror movies of recent years, this works perfectly as a found journal which, once opened, you will be compelled to plough through, page after page, right to the end.
Clever, witty, and dark as hell.
And you can track down Henry’s story for yourself by ordering The Boy who Killed Demons from Amazon here.