Publisher: HarperCollins (Harper)
Pub date: 10 May 2011
This is a literary Gothic mystery which combines literature, academic research and scary ghosts. Oh, and Lord Byron, Romantic poet. What’s not to like, right?
Andrew Taylor has been sent to Harrow for a gap year. His father has had to pay and cajole the school authorities to admit his son. Andrew needs to make this year in school work, so that he can wipe the slate clean of the many troubles he’s gotten into at his previous schools. His father has given him one last chance to clean up his act. All Andrew wants to do is keep his head down and get through the year. But ghosts from hundreds of years ago are fixated on him, causing mayhem in this isolated school.
This was not the most scary book I’ve read, but the link to Byron and secrets that are hundreds of years old kept me hooked throughout. While I have studied Byron in college, we never got into the more racy parts of his life. Byron seems to have left behind brilliant poetry and some unsavory gossip.
Evans has used documented parts of Byron’s life and woven it into a chilling murder mystery stretching back to the 1800s. Byron actually did study in Harrow, was known to have had many lovers, both male and female.
Starting at a new school comes with its own set of challenges, but Andrew has to deal with being far away from home among students who’ve known each for many years. And once they find out the reason for him going to school so far away from home, he has an even harder time.
Andrew is cast to play Byron in a school play and this is when the strangeness increases. Helped by his house master, Fawkes (a poet struggling with his own demons) Andrew has to solve an old mystery to overpower the ghost who is fixated on him, looking for revenge. He has to dig deep into the past and his own nightmares to stop the ghost from causing more harm.
I loved going through all the academic research with Andrew and liked even more that that was the way they decided to solve the mystery and understand what was happening.
Highly recommended for fans of Gothic mysteries literature and history. A great read!
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- Book Review: The White Devil by Justin Evans (leeswammes.wordpress.com)