October 19, 2019

Before the Devil Fell Blog Tour: Review

Before the Devil Fell
Author: Neil Olson
Genre: Adult Mystery/Thriller/Fantasy/Paranormal/Horror
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Hanover Square Press


“Equal parts engaging and creepy, this twisty tale deftly examines how secrets and regret can continue to reverberate through generations. A suspenseful story that examines how families haunt each other in life and death; possibly too creepy for late-night reading.” — Kirkus Reviews

Will Connor returns to his hometown, a village north of Boston, to care for his injured mother. He’s kept his distance from the town since high school, but once home he finds himself reexamining a horrific incident that took place during one of his mother’s “spirit circles.” His mother had embraced the hippie generation’s fascination with New Age and the arcane, but the unexpected death of a close friend put an end to the meetings of the modern-day coven.

Or did it?

As Will looks deeper into his family’s history he discovers that her practices weren’t so much a passing fad but the latest link in a long tradition of New England witchcraft, which still seems to hold a strange power over the town. Will hopes that unearthing the facts about the death will put his questions to rest, but there are those willing to resort to violence to keep those secrets buried.

Before the Devil Fell is a thrilling blend of genres that creates something truly original. I will say right from the beginning that if a book has anything to do with witches, witchcraft, or that kind of stuff - I'm already in. I will basically read anything that has to do with those. So after reading the description and finding out that it's not only about witchcraft but also spells, history, lots of secrets, and actual horror elements - I was done for. I did have high hopes going in just because the description sounded so awesome. Luckily, it didn't leave me disappointed.

I loved pretty much every aspect of this book except for one aspect (which is completely personal on my part). I could go on and on about all the various reasons why I loved this book so much, but I'd end up rambling on and going in circles. The setting - New England, specifically Massachusetts, is obviously the perfect choice. It works on two levels since part of the story deals with the past and the history of the main families. So that aspect was spot on for me. And the author brings the setting to life right in front of our eyes with detailed descriptions and vivid imagery - to the point where I could close my eyes and feel like I was there. The characters, all of them, were well written and rounded. The main character, Will, is a great narrator and I found it easy to connect with him early on. Will is very realistic with lots of positive traits as well as flaws, and we get to see both sides, which I really liked. The major and even the more minor characters were also well written with their own distinct personalities and traits. They weren't too stereotypical - maybe a bit on the surface - but they had a lot more substance when we get to know them a little better. It's rare to find a book that puts so much detail into all of the characters instead of just a couple. I really liked getting to know Will and everything about him - his traumatic childhood, dreams and nightmares, fears and hopes, innermost thoughts and feelings, and everything in between. I also liked watching his character grow and change both alone as a person and in his relationships with other characters in the book. Here is where my one issue with the story comes into the picture. It's not even really an issue - it's more of a personal preference. The author uses the third person point of view with Will as the narrator. If you've read any of my other reviews, you know that writing style (specifically POV) can make or break a book for me. I almost always prefer the first person POV and this story was no different. Don't get me wrong - I loved it how it was written. But I personally think it would've blown my mind if it had been done in the first person from Will's perspective. First person allows the reader a much more personal and deeper connection to the narrator than any other writing style, and that kind of bond with Will in this book would've been downright awesome. It would've been like being inside his head with all of his emotions, thoughts, memories, and everything else - and also like being there with him as all of it was happening. Like we were experiencing it too. That's the only reason this book didn't get a full five stars from me, but (again) this is my own personal opinion and other readers won't feel the same and I don't mean it to reflect poorly on the book at all.

The plot was awesome, in my opinion. The author gives us an amazing mix of my favorite genres: thriller, mystery, paranormal, horror, and (of course) witches. I don't do spoilers in my reviews, so I don't want to go into more detail without risking giving anything away. The description gives you a pretty good idea of the main plot, but it's so much more than that. There are so many layers in the book - from the scary paranormal thriller part to the topics of family, forgiveness, regret, guilt, love, and so much more. The author really does a fantastic job of blending so many different genres together to create one amazing novel that I couldn't put down and ended up reading in one sitting. I very highly recommend this book to fans of basically any genre - there's a bit of something for everyone - but especially those who enjoy witches, paranormal, history, thriller, and horror.


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