When Tess and Eliot stumble upon an ancient book hidden in a secret tunnel beneath their school library, they accidentally release a devil from his book-bound prison, and he’ll stop at nothing to stay free. He’ll manipulate all the ink in the library books to do his bidding, he’ll murder in the stacks, and he’ll bleed into every inch of Tess’s life until his freedom is permanent. Forced to work together, Tess and Eliot have to find a way to re-trap the devil before he kills everyone they know and love, including, increasingly, each other. And compared to what the devil has in store for them, school stress suddenly doesn’t seem so bad after all.
Jessop English library is home to some very dark and dangerous grimoires. When librarian assistant Tess Matheson finds herself with no other option but to grant posh boy Eliot Birch access to the most restricted grimoires, they inadvertently unleash an imprisoned demon who will do anything to remain free, like promise unlimited power and whatever one’s heart desires, otherwise he’ll kill everyone they love and consume their souls.
The Devil Makes Three is an extraordinary gothic and demonic debut casting the perfect blend of the contemporary, horror and fantasy genres. I was immediately drawn in with author’s writing style; it was inviting and easy to read, offering humour, emotional depth and intrigue within the first few chapters, which carried on throughout until the very end.
How to describe this absolute triumph? It’s like House of Hollow meets Ninth House. The Mummy meets It Follows. It’s the darker and scarier cousin of Sorcery of Thorns. Put a little of all of those together (a whole lot of awesomeness) and we get The Devil Makes Three.
This had terrific characterisation. I really enjoyed alternating between Tess and Eliot’s perspectives, making it easy to empathise with both and to see their differences and similarities too.
Tess has sacrificed pursuing a musical career to deliver the best possible future for her little sister, and continues shouldering so much to keep them both in school. She’s had to be strong to survive, and so she struggles to take her armour off, appearing standoffish, but truthfully she’s one tough cookie with a soft heart.
Meanwhile Eliot is trying to find a grimoire with a spell capable of preventing death or resurrecting the dead, in a bid to save his dying mother. His heartache and desperation seeped out the pages, made all the worse by his gentle nature, his strained relationship with his father and then the troubles he and Tess get into.
For the most part, the story takes place in the school library where Tess works. I thoroughly loved how enveloping the setting was even when the plot turned terrifying. The carts of books and isles upon isles of shelves was so comforting to imagine, then an office full of occult artefacts and volumes and a shadowy moonlight library was equally beguiling. Combine these with creaky doors, dark mysterious tombs, plaguing nightmares and lots of blood… It had me nervous to look over my shoulder in my pitch black bedroom at 2am! I had a cold terror go down my spine and through my stomach toward the climax because it was off the scales creepy!
The Devil Makes Three is one of my favourite reads this year. It blew me away and I cannot champion this enough. Well done to Tori Bovalino for an outstanding debut. Incredible, incredible, incredible! I’m excited beyond words for whatever else Bovalino has brewing.
If you love dark academia and loved Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland or House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, then add this to your TBR and come cheerlead over this delightfully menacing book with me!
Thank you kindly to Titan Books and Netgalley for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for this honest review.