Book Review: The Devil’s Footsteps (E. E. Richardson)


Details:Publisher: Bodley Head
Pages: 288
Release Date: 3rd March 2005

It was just a game, a test of bravery; the devil’s footsteps, thirteen stepping stones and whichever one you stepped on would tell you how you would die. Yes, just a game like a skipping rhyme, and nobody ever died from a skipping rhyme. But it’s not a game to Bryan. He knows the truth. He’s seen the Dark Man, because the Dark Man took his brother five years ago. He’s tried to tell himself again and again that it was his imagination, that the Devil’s footsteps are just stones and the Dark Man didn’t take Adam when he reached the thirteenth step. But what does it matter if people believe in the legend or not. Adam’s still gone and now it’s time Bryan proved how.


This is a book I picked up at Astley Book Farm a couple of weeks ago. It’s one I read many years back (borrowed from a friend, I think) but I couldn’t remember what I thought about it.When I started the creepy rhyme, a lot of it came flooding back.


one in fire, two in blood, 
three in storm and four in flood, 
five in anger, six in hate, 
seven fear and evil eight,
nine in sorrow, ten in pain,
eleven death, twelve life again,
thirteen steps to the dark man’s door,
won’t be turning back no more…
Chilling, right? It reminds me of the rhyme from the Nightmare on Elm Street series (which I watched far too young and was forever terrified of) and I find it really evocative.
Unfortunately, that was the creepiest part of the book for me. While I enjoyed the story, it didn’t have the tense atmosphere or scary anticipation that I’ve felt with other horror books I’ve read lately. I just wanted a little more from it.
The story is quite emotionally tense, with missing children in abundance and none of the adults apparently noticing the pattern or trying to do anything about it. Bryan’s own situation is particularly sad, with his parents wandering around like zombies since his brothers disappearance, and him drowning in his own grief and guilt.
The story follows quite a standard format: a triggering event, an investigation, a revelation and a showdown. I was a little disappointed with the way the revelation came about: it all felt a bit easy and rushed. The showdown started great, with Bryan having to face the Devil’s Footsteps and the different trials each brings, and I loved the choice he had to make with step twelve. But the actual showdown with the Dark Man fell flat for me. There was a bit too much reliance on conversation and the power of belief, which I didn’t enjoy.
Overall, this is an intersting read with potential, perhaps not as scary as it could be, but it has the bones of a good horror story. I’d like to read some more of Richardson’s titles and see how they compare.


My Verdict:

I enjoyed – give it a read

If you enjoyed this you might like Flesh and Blood by Simon Cheshire

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