Maria & The Devil by Graham Thomas
|Maria & The Devil by Graham Thomas|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Dark revenge fantasy with a western flavour. Themes of revenge, strong storytelling and evocative descriptions of landscape and setting combine to create a thoroughly enjoyable read. Graham Thomas popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 430||Date: February 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
The Devil has ridden out.
Maria's lover is Montana's most feared outlaw. He has left her alone in a secluded cabin deep in the wilderness. Maria is pregnant. Left in solitude, she develops a familiar routine that feels safe. But the isolation is pervasive and Maria's defences against it are crumbling. And while she waits for her lover to return, she is discovered by Rickman Chill, whose gang is tracking the Devil in a relentless quest for revenge. What will happen when Chill discovers Maria's identity? Will the Devil return in time?
I love a good Western - it's probably my favourite setting for a novel. And Graham Thomas evokes the feel perfectly with some great descriptions of scene and landscape. The Montana of Maria & The Devil is big and lonely and menacing. But it's also full of the stark kind of beauty you don't get anywhere else and it makes for an arresting read.
The story centres on Maria and the father of her unborn child - the Devil, but a real person; the outlaw kind of devil. Left alone in the wilderness, Maria finds Montana itself intruding into her thoughts, her very soul and loosening her grip on reality. Action inside the cabin is almost a dreamscape and you'll need to concentrate to keep abreast of what's real and what isn't.
But the dangers Maria faces aren't simply psychological. Rickman Chill and his posse of gunslingers are seeking the Devil and, this being a Western an' all, they have revenge on their minds. And they're not about to allow Maria to get in their way. It's really rather sad and you feel desperately sorry for this pregnant woman for the things that happen to her.
But Maria & The Devil isn't a pure Western. It's a supernatural fantasy with a Western flavour. So you can expect some spooky goings-on. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone, but I will warn any passing arachnophobes that the Hobo Spider could well cause a few sleepless nights! The supernatural element ratchets up more and more as the book goes on and I liked this. I started out feeling relatively safe but ended up thoroughly creeped out. Exactly as it should be. And in the tradition of all good Westerns, the climax is ruthless, bloody and brutal.
The book is enhanced by some lovely and evocative faded illustrations but overwhelmingly the sense of isolation here is palpable and it's this that makes the book successful. You can suspend belief and join the ride with a satisfying shiver. Good stuff.
You might also enjoy Mr Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett - in which a revenge Western, Steinbeckian (sp?!) Americana and supernatural horror blend to fantastic effect.
You can read more book reviews or buy Maria & The Devil by Graham Thomas at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Maria & The Devil by Graham Thomas at Amazon.com.
Graham Thomas was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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