Today I’m talking horror (or sometimes known as dark fantasy) with The Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverley Lee, published in 2016. (I have previously interviewed Beverley here on the blog.)

Beth and her husband Stu have moved to a new house in the idyllic English countryside to raise their baby, Gabriel. But one night, during a snowstorm, everything goes horribly wrong for the family and in the picture perfect setting, something ancient and evil emerges and changes all their lives and not for the better.

 The story skips forward and years later, Gabriel is now a teenager living in a home run by a paranormal investigator, along with a few other supernaturally gifted children, a type of school where their talents are nurtured and encouraged.

Now no one talks about what happened that fateful night and Gabriel is of course curious about what happened to his family.

 Like any nosy teenager, Gabriel starts poking about for the truth and this is where it starts to go wrong, all over again. As he starts to ask questions, his adopted family and friends are acting strangely and no one is giving him any answers. What are they all hiding and who can Gabriel trust?

In the meantime, out in the darkness, the ancient evil is still out there. But is it the only thing lurking in the shadows? And what will happen when Gabriel starts to get too close to the truth of what happened years earlier.

Now there are too many opportunities for spoilers with horror writing, so I’ll keep the plot description to a minimum.

I’m a big fan of the ‘folk horror’ and so this book was right up my alley with all the superstitions, the supernatural and religion references.

The writing is fast paced and clear, the characters are well rounded and distinct (I particularly like Noah the conflicted local priest) and the imagery is spot on.

 Much of the action takes place inside houses during storms, the violent weather playing a key role in creating atmosphere, and there was a real sense of claustrophobia and dread, as the characters band together in the main living rooms but then peel off one by one into different parts of the house (and we all knows what happens when you go off by yourself in a horror!).

The Making of Gabriel Davenport was a real page turner and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But the ultimate test for any horror book is when I actually get scared.

Now in this book, the ancient evil at one point takes the form of a black and white bird. This sounds innocent enough but believe me, it’s not and I found myself flinching, whenever I saw a similar bird.  Now, this is the ultimate compliment for any horror writing, carrying over the fear into real life.

If you like scary birds, storms, claustrophobic manor houses and teenage boys dealing with supernatural events in their past, I highly recommend The Making of Gabriel Davenport.

This book review first appeared as a part of Madeleine’s Speculative Fiction Review radio show on artdistrict-radio. Listen to the podcasts here.