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
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