The Devouring trilogy by Simon Holt

When dark creeps in and eats the light / Bury your fears on Sorry Night / For in the winter’s blackest hours / Comes the feasting of the Vours / No one can see it, the life they stole / Your body’s here, but not your soul…

Vours are monsters that take control of your body by banishing your soul to a place in your head that holds all your deepest darkest fears. They are attracted to the warmth of our world because, where they live, it is always cold and dark and void of hope. They must wait until the solstice and then enter the minds of those who are afraid. Taking over their lives and leaving them alone with their fears.

This trilogy is one of the most underrated book series in my opinion! I absolutely adore each book. Each one just hits more and more powerfully than the one before. It’s got unique monsters, a badass female protagonist, her ride or die best friend, some comedy sprinkled in (which I am a huge fan of in Horror). Simon Holt’s writing is intriguing, captivating, and, at times, extremely poetic! I mean, take a look at this quote:

If you bury your nose deep and breathe through the life of a rose, through the flesh and the earth and the beauty, you smell the death inside. It doesn’t think, not like humans, but it feels. It feels the end of its life looming almost as soon as it blossoms.

Our main protagonist, Reggie, and her best friend, Aaron, give Kim Possible/Ron Stoppable vibes. When Reggie comes across a diary filled with writings about monsters called Vours, she and Aaron (being big horror fans) don’t take it too seriously. However, Reggie’s young brother does. And he gets taken. Once Reggie realizes what the change in her brother truly means, she starts her mission to fight the Vours. She finds out there are people out there who know of these monsters and fight them, but she becomes a different kind of soldier. She gets the ability to go into the “fearscapes” and save the human souls trapped there, forcing the Vours out of the body it has taken. How she gets that power is one of my favorite bits from the series. It really showcases how badass Reggie is, even from the beginning (because it does happen in the first book). I won’t spoil it because it definitely deserves to be savored.

I know a secret now. A secret about humanity. Who has a soul and who is a monster?

The paranoia about people not being who they say they are is, of course, very reminiscent of how people see serial killers. So many killers once caught are described by friends, family, and neighbors as good people. It’s like they are two different people. The parallels of Vours to these kind of humans in real life are certainly there in the books. Reggie going in and saving these people from their demons raises the question, is the “normal” exterior simply a camouflage? Or should we work harder to find the humanity tucked away, or maybe trapped, inside a maze of horror? The people Reggie save are still damaged. The things they have seen, the things they still see when they close their eyes, weigh on them. They weigh on Reggie too. But the strength to keep going, to continue to fight those demons, comes from a strong desire to be a better person. You are not your past mistakes. You are not your dark thoughts or deepest fears. You are human, and humans are a mess of light and dark, good and bad, strength and weakness. You constantly have to choose and fight to be on the right side of humanity. It’s a worthy battle though.

But for all the horrors that Reggie had seen, she had also witnessed the wonder of the human spirit fighting back. It wasn’t about eradicating fear; it was about overcoming it.

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