Each year, the senior class of Red River School has the opportunity to visit the legendary Boulder House. The house, built into a boulder, has grown to accommodate a collection of oddities belonging to its original owner, Maxwell Cartwright Jr., creating a labyrinth of rooms filled with strange artifacts. For Violet, Paul, Dylan, Ashley, and Gretchen, the trip is exactly what they need to get away from the drama of their lives. Little do they realize that the rumors about Boulder House are true: Cartwright is still collecting, but now he’s after the souls of visitors. Debut novelist Atwood combines humor and horror with precision, ensuring that this story remains as creepy as it is fun. Narration shifts among the five characters, allowing their distinct and robust personalities to emerge. From Ashley’s struggles of hiding her sexuality from her conservative family and judgmental friends to Paul’s concern that his classmates will realize that he’s neither brave nor cool, the teens’ individual struggles help them find the strength to fight for their lives. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Praise for The Devils You Know
"This is a fast-paced, action-packed horror story that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to gore. Creepy dolls, killer unicorns, and reanimated sharks round out a cast of unconventional villains."
—YALSA's 2019 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers
"The Devils You Know is a must-read for fans of adventure horror. With plenty of creep and plenty of humor, plus some wicked origin lore, Atwood has crafted the perfect demonic fun-house ride. When can I go again?"
—Kendare Blake, New York Times bestselling author of Three Dark Crowns
"Creepy dolls? Check. Shameful secrets? Check. A sinister old house with a mind of its own? Check. I could keep listing The Devils You Know's enticing attributes all day long—ooh, can't forget suspense, compassion, and deliciously wicked humor—but at some point you'll just have to ignore me, pick up the book, and start reading. And once you do? Ha! Atwood's got you. You're trapped; you can't escape. Or, I should say, you won't want to."
—Christine Heppermann, author of Poisoned Apples and Ask Me How I Got Here
“With The Devils You Know, M.C. Atwood proves to be a master at plotting insidious twists and turns—a Breakfast Club horror for the 21st century, albeit one best savored during daylight hours.”
—S.A. Bodeen, author of The Gardener and The Compound
"A delicious cast of characters propels this cinematic thrill ride. M.C. Atwood’s voice is fresh, smart, bold, and witty—the perfect blend for a terrifying adventure in a legendary house of horrors. The Devils You Know will suck you in from the very first page and spit you out; you'll need a neck brace from its whiplash turns."
—Laurie Stolarz, bestselling author of Blue Is for Nightmares and Shutter
"Fans of this genre need to remember Atwood’s name. She knows her demons."
—St. Paul Pioneer Press
"It's a fun read any time of the year, but it's a perfect read for Halloween."
—The Newark Star Ledger
"This will be a hit with horror fans, especially those who think nothing can scare them. A must-purchase for horror shelves."
—School Library Journal
"Balances campiness, pathos, action, and gore for a delightfully terrifying read."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Debut novelist Atwood combines humor and horror with precision, ensuring that this story remains as creepy as it is fun."
"Atwood debuts with a hefty serving of uncanny gore and alluring malevolence."
"The Devils You Know is truly a literary tour-de-force of the supernatural genre, at the same time disturbing, frightening, and fascinating."
—New York Journal of Books
"The Devils You Know is a story that you will not be able to stop thinking about . . . Atwood kept me on my toes in the best way possible."
Gr 8 Up—What happens when a family-friendly historical attraction turns out to be a house of horrors? Five Wisconsin teens find out the hard way on a field trip when they get trapped inside The Boulder House, an architectural marvel built by local resident Maxwell Cartwright Jr. in 1936. There he housed supernatural oddities from around the world, not to show them off but to infuse the house with evil. He sought revenge against the residents of the town, whom he blamed for his father's suicide. When the time is right, the house comes alive and captures people, strengthening its power. The five teens, goths Gretchen and Dylan, mean girl Ashley, self-assured Violet, and star athlete Paul, diverse in class, culture, and sexual orientation, are met with a demon. He challenges them to try and get out of the house alive; if they fail, they will be added to its collection of tortured souls. The author subverts the teens' stereotypical identities; eventually they confront what may be scariest of all—having their carefully constructed facades torn away and their secrets revealed. The well-paced narrative ratchets up the tension as the creatures the protagonists confront—violent dolls, crazed clowns, armored, ax-wielding knights, and more, all intent on killing the teens—get increasingly terrifying. The ending succeeds in being both satisfying and disturbing. VERDICT This will be a hit with horror fans, especially those who think nothing can scare them. A must-purchase for horror shelves.—Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, Oakland
Five high school seniors are lured into a game in which their souls are at stake. Maxwell Cartwright Jr., who reads like a demonic cross between the Goblin King and the Jigsaw killer from the Saw film franchise, traps five classmates in his cursed house, forcing them to play his game to win their freedom and escape death. White alpha girl Ashley, white goth boy Dylan, white fashion artist Gretchen, black basketball jock Paul, and shy white Violet eventually work together to make their way through room after room of horrors, until each is forced to confront both their most shameful secrets and their swiftly approaching demise. Atwood debuts with a hefty serving of uncanny gore and alluring malevolence, but missteps and lack of development undercut the fright. Disorienting leaps from one first-person-perspective chapter to another undermine the narrative urgency, repeatedly stalling the plot so each of the five protagonists can have a turn at soliloquizing underdeveloped terror into overwritten tedium. And while some of the teens' character-motivating secrets—right-wing Ashley's closeted queerness and crush on nemesis Gretchen, Gretchen's bravado-shielded shame about her poverty, and Violet's power-disparate sexual relationship with a teacher—bring the high stakes and moral complexity horror enthusiasts expect, the rest underwhelm. Dylan's home life as a wealthy evangelical and Paul's wonderfully geeky love of Shakespeare feel like lazy afterthoughts in comparison. Horror fans will find many classic and campy tropes but little substance. (Horror. 13-17)