Friday, May 11, 2012

REVIEW: THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME

The Devil All The Time
By Donald Ray Pollock
ISBN: 038553504X
Genre: Crime Thriller
Published: July 12, 2011

About the Book

In The Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock has written a novel that marries the twisted intensity of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers with the religious and Gothic over­tones of Flannery O’Connor at her most haunting.

Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrifi­cial blood he pours on his “prayer log.” There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial kill­ers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right.

Donald Ray Pollock braids his plotlines into a taut narrative that will leave readers astonished and deeply moved. With his first novel, he proves himself a master storyteller in the grittiest and most uncompromising American grain.

My Review

I was pretty surprised this was called a Horror novel.   It more fits the Gruesome Crime Thriller or Southern Gothic category.  Other than the mislabeling of the Genre, I must admit I was quickly drawn into the story.  At first it seemed like a bunch of well written short stories, until the final few chapters, it finally ties it all together wonderfully and everything comes full circle. The story puts you on an emotional roller-coaster, from the murder of Lenora’s mother to the suicide of Arvin’s father.  The desires of small town people, the limits we will go to get revenge for those we love.  All in all, this was an amazing novel and my favorite thus far this year.

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