The Damned by Andrew Pyper is everything I love about horror, suspense, and fiction all wrapped up in one, well-written, self-contained package. I have been interested in near death experiences (NDEs) for many years, and have actually reviewed a non-fiction book on the subject for this web site. Pyper’s tale of an NDE gone wrong not only took the stereotypical light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel experience to a whole new level, but he managed to make the story seem so real that I felt like I was reading a something based on a true story rather than all-out fiction.
Danny Orchard died on his 16th birthday while trying to save his twin sister Ashleigh, only Danny managed to come back from the other side, except he didn’t come back alone. When Danny died, he did have a pleasant experience, and he managed to capitalize off of this experience in the form of a novel. However, his life since his first brush with death has been lonely, but he hasn’t exactly been alone. Ash has been a part of Danny’s life since he returned from beyond the land of the living. She’s a ghost who will go to extreme measures to make sure Danny remembers that she is alone on the bad part of the other side.
When I started reading this novel, I thought it would be like any other horror book–decent with a hint of the mundane. I was very mistaken. Pyper’s writing style is to reveal just enough about each character to keep you hooked until the next big reveal. The setting, Detroit and parts of New England, played a great contrast off each other to show the horrors of Danny’s past mixed with the small pleasures of his present. Every chapter and scene played off of each other to weave together a brilliantly written story filled with an eerie quality that leaves you feeling unsettled after each reading session.
Due to the nature of this story, I would not recommend this book to younger readers, as it can be graphic and intense as the story progresses. However, I have no problem recommending The Damned to any adult reader who has any interest in contemporary horror and the supernatural. Be warned: Pyper’s writing style may leave you unsettled enough that when you are finished reading, you regret turning off the light.
Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.