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Book Review: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Harlequin Teen
Book: Daughters Unto Devils
Author: Amy Lukavics
Genre: Fiction
Subgenres: Horror, thriller, psychological

My Review and Thoughts: I'm going to be upfront right off the bat: this book review may turn into a book recommendation. That is not what I initially planned for it to be, but after reading this book, and thinking more and more about how great the book was and how much the story has still stuck with me, even days after reading it...

But first, let me describe the book, Daughters Unto Devils, to you: Amanda Verner is a sixteen year old girl, living in the mountains sometime in the 1800's (I assume. It's unclear but judging from all of the descriptions in the book- wagons, cabins, water pumps, their manner of speaking, etc.- I'd say it's a very fair assessment), with her parents, and younger siblings. After a long winter confined in their cabin, where Amanda's youngest sister was born deaf and blind and Amanda encountered something evil in the woods, the family decides to move to an open prairie of land, in hopes that they won't have to endure another awful winter and to also forget the trials that they were put through. It should have been a fresh start for the family. But not only did Amanda still feel haunted by her brush with the malevolent entity from last winter, but she was also carrying a big secret, as well. But life on the prairie was not the new beginning that Amanda and her family had expected when they find an empty cabin filled with blood. Did Amanda's dark entity follow them there, or did the prairie have an evil all of its own?

I truly went into reading this book not knowing what to think of it. Was it a horror novel? A teen paranormal romance? The blurbs on the back of the book said it was akin to "Little House on the Prairie meets Stephen King," and I'd say that is probably a very accurate description, but it's so much better than that. This book had me hooked from the first page. I had no idea where it was going, but I was along for the ride, and stayed up way too late trying to read more and more before I fell asleep.

Without giving too much away (which I hope I didn't with my above description), the book has an overwhelming feeling of dread throughout the story, which I loved because it set the mood, and made me feel eager yet uneasy to know what would happen next in the story. The first setting on the mountain, in their family cabin home, sounds beautiful, surrounded by trees but isolated, far away from town and others (except for a post boy who Amanda secretly meets up with every once in a while). But it forces the Verner family to be confined and trapped inside the cabin all winter, as they try to keep their sanity. Their second home, after they move to the prairie and settle in an empty cabin (empty except for the blood covering the walls and floor of it) is also just as isolating but in a different way: tall grass and nothing else as far as the eye can see, except for a large patch of forest out in the distance. A meeting between the Verner family and a doctor and his son, though kind and helpful as they seem (and attractive, as Emily the younger sister finds the son), also add to the ominous and threatening feeling of the malicious spirits that the prairie holds.

The descriptions of the hard lives the Verners live, along with their subtle actions and conversations towards each other, hint at the struggles, blame, and even the fear they all have for each other. They each seem to find fault with one another, as the events from the difficult winter is still fresh in their minds. Amanda finds herself feeling as if the presense she met in the woods has invaded her soul and cursed her, following her here and now endangering her family. The prairie, seems to play on these doubts and fears, as they try to settle into their new home but a haunting evil seems to surround them all and their home isn't the safe haven they hoped it would be.

The author does well with the family interactions, from Amanda's Pa being stern and overpowering, with rare kind, sweet moments, and her Ma being the quintessential prairie wife who is hard-working and put her families' needs before her own. The relationship between Amanda and her younger sister Emily, also her closest friend, had its ups and downs. Much like a real relationship with a very close set of sisters, it is one that pulls them together as friends, but pulls them apart as sisters. The youngest siblings Joanna, Charles, and Hannah, are much younger, with Hannah being the baby born deaf and blind, who cries seemingly without cease, causing a constant racket that doesn't help the family as it tries to keep it together, instead of going mad.

All of these elements culminate into a taut, psychological horror story, one I couldn't put down, and didn't know what the outcome would be. The ending was simple yet terrifying and I thought it played out perfectly in relation to the story. Some things were left unexplained but I thought that added to the lore and mystery of the story. It was a suspenseful read and one that I felt mournful that I had finished it, but happy that I had stumbled across this gem of a book.

Should You Read It: That would be a big yes. I saw this book getting some bad reviews on Goodreads, but I think the reviewers thought the book was going to be something totally different. If you don't like psychological horror, you might not like this book, but I'd still say to give it a chance because the story was original and enticing, and the writing was excellent. I truly cannot say enough good things about it, except that I already have Amy Lukavics' next book, The Women in the Walls and I am dying to read it. I hope it's just as good (or even better, if that's possible) than Daughters Unto Devils!


Where to Buy:
Barnes & Noble

Or check out a copy from your local library!

Daughters Unto Devils

Check Out the Author:
Official Website
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