Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review: The Devil in Silver

Author: Victor LaValle
Title: The Devil in Silver
Description: Pepper gets into a fight one night, defending the honor of a girl he sort of likes. Because their shift is almost over and they don’t want to do the paperwork, the cops dump him in a mental hospital for 72 hours of observation, rather than arresting him. When he tries to fight his way out, Pepper is drugged into insensibility and wakes up a month later. Complicating matters is the mysterious patient who has an entire hall to himself and may be feeding on the other patients.  
Review source: Netgalley
Plot: This book is billed as horror, and at first it comes across like a typical horror novel (what IS that thing?) Somewhere along the way, though, it shifts, and becomes a musing on the nature of normalcy, the utter impersonality of “the system,” and the process of self-realization.
Characters: There are some pretty interesting characters here; Pepper, of course, but also his (are they really) friends Dorry, Loochie, and Coffee, and the other residents of the mental ward. Even the hospital personnel  come across as more than stereotyped caricatures.
Writing style: The character study in this book struck me as more successful than the horror aspect.  I’m not sure exactly how horrified we are supposed to be by the Devil, but he never seemed all that scary. Much scarier was the completely believable explanation for Pepper—completely sane—being incarcerated in a mental hospital indefinitely.
Audience: I’m sort of stumped here. Horror readers might like it, but I’d push it at folks who read literary fiction.
Wrap-up: After the cheap horror effects of the first few chapters died down, the book drew me in more and more. I’ll give it a solid 4/5*

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