Page Count 406
Publication date June 2020
Publisher Silver Shamrock Publishing
About fifteen miles west of Stauford, Kentucky lies Devil’s Creek. According to local legend, there used to be a church out there, home to the Lord’s Church of Holy Voices—a death cult where Jacob Masters preached the gospel of a nameless god.
And like most legends, there’s truth buried among the roots and bones.
In 1983, the church burned to the ground following a mass suicide. Among the survivors were Jacob’s six children and their grandparents, who banded together to defy their former minister. Dubbed the “Stauford Six,” these children grew up amid scrutiny and ridicule, but their infamy has faded over the last thirty years.
Now their ordeal is all but forgotten, and Jacob Masters is nothing more than a scary story told around campfires.
For Jack Tremly, one of the Six, memories of that fateful night have fueled a successful art career—and a lifetime of nightmares. When his grandmother Imogene dies, Jack returns to Stauford to settle her estate. What he finds waiting for him are secrets Imogene kept in his youth, secrets about his father and the church. Secrets that can no longer stay buried.
The roots of Jacob’s buried god run deep, and within the heart of Devil’s Creek, something is beginning to stir…
I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I read Keisling’s short story Holes In The Fabric in Silver Shamrock’s fantastic anthology Midnight In The Graveyard. There’s actually a fun little nod to the prelude in Devils Creek for the keen eye.
I found the passages where Keisling switches in and out of character narration very effective. Particularly when their anecdotes begin in a calm daydream-like manner, ramping up into a horrifying nightmare only to snap you back into the present. It kept me unsettled, a quality I hope for in most horror novels.
The strongest feeling I can associate with Devils Creek is this – watching a horror movie where the victim is running hell for leather yet the monster approaches at a plodding unstoppable pace, knowing there is no escape.
A constant dread that death is inevitable and everything the characters do to escape will amount to nothing.
I knew going in that Devils Creek centred around a religious cult but was surprised and thrilled to discover this novel is also a cosmic horror.
Keisling pulled together everything I love about the genre, ticking all the boxes- small town backwoods America, cults, a hefty dose of body horror and other dimensions/gods combine to make this masterpiece.
I must note that child abuse and incest factor into the story but thankfully not in enough grim detail to turn me away. I have boundaries that were definitely met but not quite crossed within this novel.
The bonds between Jacobs surviving children The Stauford Six vary as do the lasting effects of their childhood and the choices they have made since but somewhere amongst the trauma and sickness Keisling still created moments of pure love, enough to make me care for the characters and invested in their plight.
Devils Creek is an immediate five star for me, I highly recommend to all horror fans and can’t wait to see where Todd Keisling takes us next.