The Devil's Labyrinth

The Devil's Labyrinth

3.5 35
by John Saul
     
 

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For more than three decades, bestselling novelist John Saul has been summoning macabre masterpieces from the darkest realms of his imagination. With each new book, his instinct for playing upon our deepest dread has grown only stronger and more sinister. He’s never been afraid to push the boundaries of suspense and confront us with what frightens us most.

Overview

For more than three decades, bestselling novelist John Saul has been summoning macabre masterpieces from the darkest realms of his imagination. With each new book, his instinct for playing upon our deepest dread has grown only stronger and more sinister. He’s never been afraid to push the boundaries of suspense and confront us with what frightens us most.

After his father’s untimely death sends fifteen-year-old Ryan McIntyre into an emotional tailspin, his mother enrolls him in St. Isaac’s Catholic boarding school, hoping the venerable institution with a reputation for transforming wayward teens can work its magic on her son. But troubles are not unknown even at St. Isaac, where Ryan arrives to find the school awash in news of one student’s violent death, another’s mysterious disappearance, and growing incidents of disturbing behavior within the hallowed halls.

Things begin to change when Father Sebastian joins the faculty. Armed with unprecedented knowledge and uncanny skills acquired through years of secret study, the young priest has been dispatched on an extraordinary and controversial mission: to prove the power of one of the Church’s most arcane sacred rituals, exorcism. Willing or not, St. Isaac’s most troubled students will be pawns in Father Sebastian’s one-man war against evil–a war so surprisingly effective that the pope himself takes notice of the seemingly miraculous events unfolding an ocean away.

But Ryan, drawn ever more deeply into Father Sebastian’s ministrations, sees–and knows–otherwise. As he witnesses with mounting dread the transformations of his fellow pupils, his certainty grows that forces of darkness, not divinity, are at work. Evil is not being cast out . . . something else is being called forth. Something that hasn’t stirred since the Inquisition’s reign of terror. Something nurtured through the ages to do its vengeful masters’ unholy bidding. Something whose hour has finally come to bring hell unto earth.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Saul (Suffer the Children) links an exorcism of the devil with a plot to kill the pope in this over-the-top religious thriller. When thugs at a Boston public high school savagely beat 16-year-old Ryan McIntyre, who's struggling with the death of his father in Iraq, Ryan's mother transfers him to a Catholic school. At St. Isaac's Preparatory Academy, where a student's disappearance and other bizarre events have caused worry, a popular priest, Father Sebastian, takes a special interest in the newcomer. When word reaches the Vatican that Sebastian may have revived a long-lost rite to invoke the primitive evil latent even in the most innocent, the supreme pontiff himself plans a visit to St. Isaac's. Those looking for a more subtle treatment of a similar theme might prefer Whitley Strieber's The Night Church, but Saul fans should be satisfied. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Troubled by the loss of his father, teenaged Ryan is supposed to get help by switching to St. Ignatius Catholic School. But what could be less helpful than a charismatic priest, famed as an exorcist, who seems to have dark intentions of his own? Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345500274
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/26/2007
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
135,679
File size:
556 KB

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

2007

Ryan McIntyre picked up his cereal bowl, held it to his lips, drank down the last of the sweetened milk exactly the way he had for at least the last fourteen of his sixteen years, and pretended he didn’t notice his mother’s disapproving look. With a glance at the clock, he stuffed the last half of his third slice of buttered toast into his mouth then stood up and picked up his empty bowl and plate. He had just enough time to grab his books and get to the bus stop.

“Do you have any plans for after school today?” his mother asked.

Her tone instantly put Ryan on his guard. “Why?” he countered, as he put the dishes in the sink.

“Because we’re going out to dinner tonight, and I’d like you to be home by five-thirty.”

Ryan’s eyes narrowed, and he felt his day cloud over. But maybe he was wrong. “Out to dinner?” he echoed, turning to face his mother. “Just us?”

Teri McIntyre turned to meet her son’s eyes. “With Tom,” she said. “He’s taking us both out to dinner, and I’d like you to be home by five-thirty. Okay?” There was a tone to her final word that betrayed the knowledge that she knew it was not okay with Ryan at all. His next words confirmed that knowledge.

“I don’t want to go to dinner with Tom Kelly,” Ryan said, instantly hating the whiny quality he heard in his own voice. He took a deep breath and started over. “I don’t like that he’s always around. It’s like he’s trying to move in on you.”

“He’s not moving in on me,” Teri said, her eyes pleading with her son as much as her voice. “He’s just helping us through what is a very difficult time.”

“He’s helping you through your difficult time,” Ryan shot back in a tone that made his mother flinch.

“He’d like to help you, too,” Teri said, her eyes glistening.

“I don’t need his help.” Ryan moved toward the stairs. “And I don’t need anybody trying to replace Dad, either.”

“He’s not trying to replace your father, Ryan,” Teri said, her voice quivering. “Nobody could.”

His mother’s words burning in his head, Ryan ran up the stairs to his room. Damn right no one could replace his father, and especially not Tom Kelly, who seemed to be at their house all the time now, trying to be nice.

As Ryan scooped his books off his desk and dumped them in his backpack, his eyes caught on the picture of his father that always sat right next to the desk lamp, and he paused.

Something in his father’s gaze seemed almost to be speaking to him. Grow up, his father seemed to be saying. You’re sixteen years old and you’re still sucking your milk from your bowl like a two-year-old. It’s time to be a man.

His backpack clutched in his right hand, Ryan stood perfectly still, feeling his father’s eyes boring into him.

Grow up. And be fair.

Be fair. The words his father had spoken more than any others. Ryan sighed, giving in to his father’s silent command. If he was going to be totally fair, Tom Kelly wasn’t really all that bad. In fact, he’d been a lot of help to his mother over the past six months. When the car had broken down, Tom had fixed it. When the roof had leaked, Tom had known who to call and made sure his mother didn’t get cheated. And when the basement had flooded, Tom had helped move things upstairs then helped clean the place up again, and never said a word about the fact that Ryan had managed to avoid speaking to him through the whole long day.

Still, nobody could replace his dad.

It had been two years since his father’s deployment and less than two years since an Iraqi roadside bomb had taken out the Humvee his father had been in. When he wasn’t actually looking at his father’s image, Ryan was finding it increasingly hard to remember exactly what his father’s face looked like. But right now he was staring at that image, and he could see very clearly exactly what Captain William James McIntyre was expecting from his son.

He sank down on his bed and thought about going to dinner with his mom and Tom Kelly.

His mom kept saying that her liking Tom Kelly had nothing to do with her love for his father, but Ryan was very certain that wasn’t quite true. And despite his own determination to keep his father’s place open in this house—in this family—his mother might just try to fill that place with someone else.

But what if it all turned out to be a horrible mistake? What if one of these days his father walked through the front door yelling, “Honey, I’m home!”

But then, as Ryan gazed at the portrait again, he remembered what his dad said to him the day he left for Iraq. “You’re the man of the house now, Ryan, so take good care of your mother. I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone, but I know this is going to be harder on her than it is for me. So you be there for her, okay?”

Ryan had nodded. They’d hugged. Then his father was gone.

But his words were still there in Ryan’s mind, as fresh as the day he’d spoken them. You be there for her.

His eyes shifting from his father’s image to the mirror over his bureau, Ryan stared at his own sullen reflection.

Not good enough, he told himself. Then he repeated his father’s words one more time. Be there for her. And be fair.

Grabbing his backpack, he ran down the stairs. His mother was still sitting at the kitchen table, cradling her coffee in both hands.

“I’ll be home by five-thirty,” Ryan said, and kissed her on the cheek.

The smile that came over her face told him that whatever he himself thought, he’d done exactly what his father would have wanted him to do. Kissing her one more time, just for good measure, he dashed out the front door just as the bus was pulling up to the stop at the corner. Okay, Dad, he thought. I did the right thing. Now make the bus driver wait for me!

But even as he broke into a run, he saw the bus doors close and watched helplessly as it pulled away.

The peeling walls of the second-floor classroom of Dickinson High School’s main building felt like they were closing in on Ryan, and directly behind him he could almost feel Frankie Alito trying to get a peek over his shoulder at the history test the class was working on. Ryan stiffened, knowing Alito was expecting him to slump just low enough at his desk to give the other boy a clear view of his answers, and as he thought about what Alito and his friends might do to him after school if he refused to let Frankie cheat, he felt himself starting to ease his body downward. But just before Alito could get a clear look, Ryan heard his father’s voice echoing in his head:

It’s time to be a man.

Instantly, Ryan sat straight up, determined that for once Alito could pass or fail on his own.

Then he felt the poke in his back. He ignored it, not shifting even a fraction of an inch in his seat.

Another poke with what felt like Alito’s pen, harder this time. Ryan kept his eyes focused on the test in front of him, but shrugged his shoulder away from Alito’s pen point.

“Gimme a look, geek,” Frankie whispered, punctuating the last word with another, harder jab.

“No way,” Ryan muttered, straightening even further in his chair and hunching over his paper, trying to stay out of Frankie’s reach. He glanced up at the teacher, but Mr. Thomas was busy at his desk, a stack of papers in front of him.

“Last chance,” Alito said, and Ryan felt another poke. But this time it was down low, just above his belt.

This time it wasn’t a pen point.

And this time his body reacted reflexively. Ryan twisted around just in time to see the flash of a blade.

The kind and size of blade that meant business.

“Now!” Alito hissed, jabbing the point of the knife hard enough to make Ryan jump.

Ryan yelped as the point dug into him and the teacher’s head snapped up.

“Something wrong, McIntyre?” Mr. Thomas asked from the front of the room.

Suddenly every eye in the classroom was on Ryan.

“No, sir,” Ryan said. “Sorry.”

Mr. Thomas stood up and came around his desk.

“Really,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t anything.”

The teacher advanced down the aisle, his eyes never leaving Frankie Alito, and came to a stop next to Ryan.

“Really, it was nothing, Mr. Thomas,” Ryan said, praying that Alito had at least been smart enough to slip the knife back in his pocket.

“Both hands on your desk, Alito,” Thomas commanded. Ryan kept facing directly forward, not wanting to see what was going to happen next.

“What’s that?” He heard Mr. Thomas ask.

“Nuthin’,” Alito answered.

“Hand it over,” the teacher said.

Ryan could almost see Frankie Alito glowering, but then the teacher spoke one more word, snapping it out with enough force that Ryan jumped.

“Now!”

The tension in the classroom grew as Alito hesitated, but when Mr. Thomas’s gaze never wavered, he finally broke and passed the switchblade to him.

“Thank you,” Thomas said softly. “And now you will go down to the office, where you will wait for me. I’ll be there at the end of the period, and you will be out of school for the rest of the year, even if we decide not to press charges, which I can assure you we won’t. You’re through, Alito.”

His face twisted with fury, Frankie Alito got to his feet, jabbing an elbow hard into Ryan’s shoulder.

“I saw that, too,” Mr. Thomas said. “You’re only making it worse.”

Alito shrugged and walked to the door, then paused before opening it. He turned his eyes, boring into Ryan, and then he smiled.

It was a smile that sank like a dart into Ryan’s belly.

“Okay. Show’s over,” Mr. Thomas said, breaking the uneasy silence that had fallen over the room. “Back to your tests. You have only ten minutes left.”

From the Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

The Devil’s Labyrinth is John Saul’s thirty-fourth novel. His first novel, Suffer the Children, published in 1977, was an immediate million-copy bestseller. His other bestselling suspense novels include In the Dark of the Night, Perfect Nightmare, Black Creek Crossing, Midnight Voices, The Manhattan Hunt Club, Nightshade, The Right Hand of Evil, The Presence, Black Lightning, The Homing, and Guardian. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling serial thriller The Blackstone Chronicles, initially published in six installments but now available in one complete volume. Saul divides his time between Seattle, Washington, and Hawaii. Join John Saul’s fan club at www.johnsaul.com.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Devil's Labyrinth 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't judge your opinion of John Saul as a writer by this novel, which is uncharacteristically poor for him. He's written much better. For example, try the Manhattan Hunt Club. I realize Saul does not spend a lot of time with characterization, which means most of the people in his story lines fit into one tight little description. It's his fast-paced, intriguing plot lines that make his novels such page turners. So I tried not to get annoyed by his worn-out characterization of the grieving widow who is completely helpless without a big, strong man by her side, even though it felt insulting to all those women who carry on quite effectively raising their families and taking care of the homefront while their spouses are off serving their country. However, Saul's tired old theme of cold, harsh, and highly demented Catholic priests and nuns--although later we find out one of them is a demented Muslim-- has left me equally tired. My guess is that he had some bad experience with a leader in the Catholic church that he can't seem to get past. Are we to believe that the typical priest or nun would not think it odd that at least three seemingly normal teenagers, one who has lived at St. Isaacs for four years, are all in the clutches of the devil and need to be exorcised? Saul's plot lines often ask the reader to let go a bit on credulity, but this one is just way over the top. I'd pass on this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most disturbing of John Saul's many great books. Plot and story line were fragmented, very graphic details and gloomy reading. The entire subject line was depressing and didn't have a significant point. I wanted to burn the book when I was finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As with all his books ive read, im always pleased with a good book. Looking forward to reading his next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main portion of the book was a decent read for John Saul, but the ending just drops you. Saul typically writes a very fast paced novel without deep character development. I liked reading the main portion of the book, finding myself unable to put the book down. However, the ending just ends. It is almost as if Saul had to turn in his book by a deadline and waited until the final hour to write th ending.
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Lindsie More than 1 year ago
I have been reading John Saul's novels for a few years now, and I can usually get into them pretty easily. This book however, was a bit harder for me to enjoy. It is soley based on two religions, in which one man (or rather two) are defending theirs by bringing "evil" out of teenagers to satisy their god, and to make right of their ancestors past. I would say it would have been more interesting if Saul simply chose one subject (putting evil into people) rather than mixing it with two religions and going off of all that. It doesn't give readers enough time to enjoy the characters, and the plot. Anyway, John Saul fans may enjoy this book more than I did - I will however, contrinue to read his novels because I do enjoy them for the most part.
EllenMarie Healy More than 1 year ago
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c_rae More than 1 year ago
I have read most, if not all, of John Saul's books and let me tell you that I have almost sworn off reading any more of his books. It just appalled me when he described one of the characters murdering a baby animal (i don't remember if it was a mouse, kitten or what but it doesn't matter). I stopped reading the book then and there and have not picked it up again.
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Kasia_S More than 1 year ago
Growing up without a father is tough enough but when sixteen year old Ryan McIntyre decides to do the right thing by acting like a man and standing up for himself he gets punished for it. Refusing to let a bully cheat of his test gets him beaten up so badly that his bleeding body feels terror at the thought of going back. His loving mother Teri reluctantly listens to her boyfriend Tom's advice about transferring Ryan to St. Isaac's Preparatory Academy,a Catholic school located in a grand structure with its own catacombs and dark labyrinths and with Tom's help secures a spot for her son. Ryan is a little distraught at the thought that the main reason why there was an opening is the mysterious and questionable death of the student whose bed he will sleep in, but he cannot go back to his old life and the bullies. Structure and rules should be his guiding light, uniforms and nuns, confessions and prayer his daily grind, but what Ryan doesn't know is that nothing is as it seems. Something rotten is trapped in the labyrinths and it's salivating at the thought of getting out. When the most popular young priest, Father Sebastian takes him under his wing, his life turns to worse, his friends start changing or disappearing and scrams and noises can be heard late at night. Ryan knows that something isn't right, the late night confessions and getting locked up in a secret chapel with a scary and angry looking Christ on the cross seem to affect those who come near it and pretty soon Ryan gets engulfed in it all.

Priests at the school are keen on practicing the long-lost rite to invoke the primitive evil from a possessed person, picking students who are haunted by evil and trying to get it out of them. It's important to the priests there to cleanse those who are bad since the school is known for taking in troubled youths. As their exorcism continue it seems that things are turning for the worse and not better, the students aren't really cleansed but instead they seem to become possessed even if they were fine before. Something or someone is taking advantage of the priests and their gullible enthusiasm for riding the world of evil, as they start to meddle with things that are bad and worst of all, real. Add to the mix their worried parents, Ryan's suspiciousness of his mother's suddenly overfriendly boyfriend who simply couldn't wait to get him out of the house and an Islamic group trying to target the visiting pope who decides to come and see these exorcisms take place.

Overall the book was exciting but some things were not explained; why certain people acted in specific manner and what drove them to it and why, what the silver cross from Ryan's father really was, and I wish there was more written about the catacombs and the labyrinth under the school, I felt like it contributed to the title more than to the story. As I was nearing the end, about 380 pages in I knew I had about 24 pages left and the whole book was still wide open, awaiting conclusion which took up about two pages. All this high pressure stuff happens, the trickery of the evil, changes in innocent children, false pretenses under which people acted, the deaths and the blood and gore and it took about 20 seconds of reading to get to the conclusion. I think it's a great way to kill a good book, people these days don't want to spend time reading a rich story to get a watered down ending. I liked how it ended but it was so lifeless that I was stunned, way too abrupt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago