Author: Kristine Kibbee
Publisher: Incorgnito Publishing Press
Publish Date: January 15th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult
At thirteen, Anne did not expect to find herself traveling all alone, on her way to spending her summer with family she neither knows nor wants to know. But here she is; stuck on this train with a most annoying nine-year-old boy whose only interesting contribution to her journey is the strange story of an abandoned Victorian town hidden in the woods near her destination
When Anne arrives at her backwoods stop, she is met by her ornery relatives and her horrific older cousin who is determined to spoil Anne’s summer with her maleficent tricks. Anne needs to escape into an adventure and remembers the story of the forgotten town. Determined to find this place, Anne follows her cousin and friends tothe abandoned town where they goad her into entering one of the cobweb-filled old homes and leave her locked inside
While searching for a way out, Anne stumbles through a hole in the floor and unknowingly steps into an ominous, ghost-filled mystery. As she digs deeper into the secrets of this house, she discovers a weathered journal that reveals a magic-infused history hundreds of years old and a tragic secret: a curse has trapped the town and its inhabitants in a place not meant to be found by humans. The more she discovers about the secrets of this place, the closer she gets to the chilling realization that she is not alone in Devlin.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Devlin’s Door was a quick, action packed book with multiple unforeseeable twists and turns. I particularly enjoyed how the mystery unraveled slowly rather than all at once at the very end of the novel. Its setting within an abandoned village whose inhabitants disappeared without a trace certainly made for an eerie read.
One of the novel’s strong suits was undeniably the vastly differing characters. Anne specifically underwent dramatic character development throughout the course of the book. Her background was laid out well and provided an explanation for many of her actions and decisions. She was also admirable for her wide range of positive and negative traits and mannerisms, contributing to a believable and relatable character overall. She was resourceful and a quick thinker, both of which were to her advantage. Anne was also notable for her uncharacteristic independence – after all, how often does one stumble upon a strong, self-reliant female protagonist in young adult literature?
My main complaint was with the world building, primarily with respect to the faeries. They played an essential role to the plot, yet, having finished the book in its entirety, I still don’t have a good understanding as to what a faery is and why they decided to wreak havoc on Devlin. Overall, I was hoping for more development rather than having seemingly unconnected information flung at readers during various stages of Anne’s adventure. Consequently, I struggled to fully immerse myself in the world that Kibbee had crafted and found myself struggling to understand how immediately accepting Anne was of this new environment.
Lastly, I was hoping for a more exciting climax. The novel seemed to be building up to some pertinent revelation regarding the faeries or the world itself only to fall flat with a disappointing, lack-luster ending. At the very least, I was expecting a cliff-hanger or open-ended resolution that left the conclusion up to the reader’s interpretation but to no avail.
Anne stepped inside as if dangling on marionette strings. The floorboards creaked under her weight. A wide staircase with dingy ivory steps emerged from the darkness in front of her, but she veered right and into a parlor just inside the threshold. Just as Josh had foretold, the room was fully furnished and aside from some vandals’ disarray and a thick coat of dust, just as if its owners had left for Sunday church. A floral couch with wooden legs sat at the center of the room with matching chairs positioned on each arm, the cushions missing from all. Indentations from the coffee table that had once sat before them remained in the floor but their owner lie in the hearth, only its singed claw feet remaining. A porcelain doll sat on the ground in front of the fireplace, as if an eternity of waiting had failed to warm her stony bones. Her glassy eyes stared up at the ceiling. Anne approached the toy, her hands trembling. A perfect X had been drawn over the doll’s mouth.
WHAM! A thud echoed from the hallway and brought the doll to life with its vibration. Her painted eyes darkened along with the room. Rushing towards the root of the noise, Anne quickly arrived at the front door and found it closed. Pulse racing, she twisted the knob but met resistance on the opposite side. “Oh man, oh man, on man!” she sputtered, digging her heels into the floorboards and pulling with her full weight. Anne strained endlessly but felt no give. Panic swelled in her gut. “HELP! HELP ME! THE DOOR’S JAMMED!”
Muffled yet unmistakable howls of laughter echoed from beyond the door. Anne raced back to the parlor room and approached its eastern-most window, which faced the street outside. There appeared five blurry figures, growing steadily smaller as they dashed into the distance. Squinting against the filthy windowpanes, Anne could distinguish the mound of bikes as they neared it and looked on in horror as six bikes rode out of town with just five riders. Lexie wobbled, laboring to steer her bike while towing the one Anne had ridden. Or perhaps it was merriment that had her off balance.
Anne returned to the front door, hot tears streaming down her cheeks as she yanked at the knob again and again. It wouldn’t give an inch. Her sobs came in spasms until she collapsed against the jam and slid into a defeated heap beneath it. The floorboards were dusty and Anne’s tears pooled upon them in muddy little puddles. She watched them swell to lakes until she was dry and then sucked in a deep breath and wiped her cheeks clean.
The staircase before her beckoned and Anne rose with a mind to seek out the shattered windows she’d noticed on the second floor, and along with them, an escape route. The stairs groaned beneath her weight and she slowed to a cautious pace. As she reached the landing, Anne came upon a catwalk that had been hidden in shadow from her vantage point on the first floor. It was lined with bookshelves on one side, and as she neared it, she was pleased to see a few volumes still scattered amongst the cobwebs. A rich, red book with gold embossing caught Anne’s eye and she plucked it from the stacks. “The Crimson Fairy Book by Andrew Lang,” she read aloud, passing over the raised lettering with delicate fingertips. A musty smell wafted up from its pages as Anne cracked the book open to an illustration of a lithe little fairy riding atop the back of a barn owl. Glancing back to the bookcase, she noticed a similar sprite on the cover of another of the novels, bearing the titleThe Blue Fairy Book. She gripped its spine, but as she moved to pull it from the shelf, the hollow space left behind revealed an enormous rodent who leapt directly towards her. Anne recoiled, falling backwards onto the railing behind her. Snaps of splintering wood resounded through the house as the rotted banister split and sent her plummeting towards the lower story. Time seemed to slow as she watched the dusty chandelier hanging from the ceiling sway when she impacted and broke through the floorboards below. In an instant, all went black.
About the Author
Kristine Kibbee is a delightfully contrary Pacific Northwest writer with a fascination for
all things literary. Kristine’s passion for creative writing began in her early youth and led her to the doors of Washinton State University, where she earned a degree in Humanities, with a focus in Professional Writing.
Kristine has since had works published in The Vancougar, The Salal Review Literary Review, S/Tick Literary Review and is a featured columnist for the nationally syndicated magazine, Just Frenchies. Kristine’s novella, The Mischievous Misadventures of Dewey the Daring, is available on Amazon.com and her middle-grade fantasy novel, Whole in the Clouds, was released in November 2014 with Zharmae Publishing. She anticipates the publication of her comedic collectionof dog stories, Frenchie ‘Tails,’ – which are short, cheeky and ripe with mischief– in November of 2015; also with Zharmae Publishing.