“Devil in the Countryside” is strange, in the respect that it deserves a huge amount of respect, while slightly disappointing in terms of its content. By the blurb and the cover style, I was expecting a more conventional werewolf horror story; in fact, this was neither a werewolf tale as such, or part of the horror genre. More accurate a description would be a Reformation-era whodunnit/political intrigue thriller, in the vein of “From Hell”, “The Name of the Rose”, or perhaps a Poe sleuth mystery. The “devil” referred to in the title, the reader comes to find, does not necessarily apply to the “werewolf” itself - in fact, its metaphor can be applied to many actors in this book: the investigator, the warrior, or even the very Catholic church itself. And I think this is exactly the ambiguity Cory Barclay intends to create. The fact that I was expecting more conventional horror may say more about me as the reader, than it does of the book itself. But, on that note, if it is “horror” you are expecting, or a werewolf story, this is not the book for you.
Cory clearly relishes his research. “Devil in the Countryside” is very well-written and edited, and contains a huge amount of historical detail – as somebody uneducated in the history of Reformation-era religious politics, I can only assume that Cory has included a vast amount of historical accuracy (the book is, in fact, based on a real life case in the sixteenth century), and, in this case, I applaud him well.
The book is very interesting, though perhaps lulls a little in parts. It clearly intends to disturb the reader with some of its more graphic details of the “judicial” process of the time, and succeeds; we are all aware of the despicable bloodlust of the justice system in those days, and sometimes it does feel as if this book has been written simply to bemoan this, or the Catholic church generally, which is not original. That said, when the book is read as a whole, this element forms part of a much more comprehensive sum – the story is good, the historical case a well-chosen one, and Cory’s creative licence seems to add, rather than take away from this.
Other than my only gripe about preferring to be more aware of the genre, this is a good book, written well by a strong, hard-working author.
In : Book Reviews