The Devil's Pocketbook by Ross Jeffery
“You will grieve the grief in The Devil’s Pocketbook. You will bear the hope. You will discover, too, cruel wonder in a pod in a rocky bay, even as you think: get away. Ross Jeffery is the two things you long for most in an author of horror: first, he’s fearless. Second, he’s giving. Giving you, the reader, all that fear instead.”
– Josh Malerman, New York Times best selling author of Bird Box and Daphne
It Will Consume You
I think my soul left my body for this one, as we follow a heartbreaking story of love and loss. Erik and Lara take a trip to Polperro, in Cornwall. Which by the way the story comes with the cutest little map, which by the way what a genius idea! Because you can use your mini-map to explore the area. Maybe also have a little cry when you realise the relevance of the place in the book. Seriously, Ross really wants to break you! As this book portrays so many aspects of grief. Imagine setting up and getting ready for the birth of your little girl. Only to have the moment of joy turn into a first-time parent's worst nightmare, the visual impact of Ross's descriptions will tear apart even the strongest of wills. The story is beautiful, visually crafted scenes that will break your heart. The details of how Lara's routine had changed since Anne's death, the early rising, emotional outbursts that came along with the grieving process. It all felt so real how intricate details were added to the characters, especially the way they both process the new addition. Watching how this unfolds is both intense and terrifying, you know the reason why she clings to Scylla. Lara feels like her chance to be a mother was ruthlessly stripped from her, which is why she becomes so attached to their new egg sack child. But as we look at things through Erik's eyes we start to realize this is not as much a gift as a curse. Ross rolls pain, suffering, and emotional torment into this book not just for couples but for the reader too. As Lara and Erik try to process their grief the gap only seems to get wider with the child's arrival. Lara's mothering instincts re ignites and blinds her to the possible dangers that lie ahead. Whereas pain has led Erik into deep feelings of regret and guilt, so he ends up going with her decision. The dream is just that, a dream until the true nightmare finally starts to form with horrifying consequences. To think that the gift Lara so desperately wanted, in her pain she pushes away the one person who can save her. Erik has to go through more torture and pain as this witch of the sea, weaves a controlling and convincing web of lies that Lara would rather believe. Leaving it up to Erik to save the person he loves more than anything from succumbing to the darkness. The way it twisted from what I thought was gonna be from sci-fi horror to a folk horror wrapped within a love story. There are moments in this story where it took everything for me not to fall apart. When you see what this does to Lara you cannot help but feel sorry for her, even with the hell she puts Erik through he still refuses to leave. This was psychologically fixating and Ross does not overdo it with the horror aspects of blood and gore. There is no need, the story stands alone with its intense atmosphere and gut-wrenching emotion. Scylla as a character is manipulative and ruthless, this creature seems to feed off the pain she causes and relishes in it. Making her a truly nasty piece of work, especially lines like this one "That was an oversight, her pain and suffering was just too alluring." Every word that came out of her deceitful mouth had me screaming at the pages with rage. I think my next purchase will have to be Only The Stain Remains, especially with how well-formed and structured with care this story was.
This one will stay with me the rest of my life
I'm honestly completely blown away by this story. I don't even know how to put my thoughts or feelings into words to try and review this. My heart positively bled for Erik. His marriage was broken upon the death of their daughter, so he and his wife take a holiday to try and recover and to spread their daughter's ashes only to meet their worst nightmare. A witch born from the sea sent to feed on Lara's deepest, most desperate desire to be with her daughter. A witch who would make them each do horrible things to the other, all for her amusement as she weaves her spell over Lara. God, I got so wrapped up and invested in this book. Erik was easily my favourite character as his pain was so raw; I felt like it was pouring out of the book into me. He was so desperate to save his wife and try to salvage anything he could of their life together, and I was riveted. It's hard for me to feel as deeply for Lara since she was taken in by Scylla so easily, and she did and said all these awful things to Erik. However, her pain and grief were so all-encompassing and numbing that it's hard for me not to feel for her a little. And Erik's talk on the cliff about no one knowing the strength it takes to go against every natural instinct you have....I had chills. No one truly knows what those feelings are like until you've been there, and I think Ross managed to capture that so achingly perfectly. Ross, man, you've got a real winner here. I've never read something as powerful and real as The Devil's Pocketbook, and I was captured from the start. You've weaved a spell of your own over me, and this is a book that will never leave me as long as I live. Thank you for sharing this tragic, beautiful story with the world, and thank you, DarkLit, for allowing me to read this early!
The seaside town of Polperro has some dark secrets and Erik and Lara are about to experience all of it. The respite they hoped for goes terribly wrong and the author captures every bit with such brilliant detail. Only the Stains Remain was my first time reading Jeffery’s work and I was blown away. This book has the same impact. So much emotion was felt throughout the story. You feel the hope of something new just like the characters and then are suddenly slammed into just the opposite as things are falling apart and all you can do is helplessly watch. Everything about this book was gripping. I personally loved the small town of Polperro and the mystery it held. The rain pelting the windows, the waves crashing, Smugglers Inn, all of this really made me want to just dive into this book and experience everything it has to offer and it’s a lot! The characters were also enjoyable. Erik and Lara’s situation was so heartbreaking, and Jeffery did an amazing job capturing all their ups and downs. Erik was probably my favorite though. For some reason, his struggles really stuck with me the most. Someone trying to keep it together emotionally all while being pushed away, witnessing terrible things, and eventually knowing he is the one that must put an end to all of this. If you enjoy folklore, mysterious seaside towns and picturesque writing, I recommend picking this one up. It is gut wrenching; it is haunting, and it has earned a spot in my top reads for this year.
I loved this book but really struggled with the grief aspect as it hit a bit too close to home. The way the author conveyed the grief of the parents was so moving and so well written it tore my heart out. The rest of the book was amazing too, the suspense and the odd bit of gore blended perfectly. An intense experience.