Review: Devil’s Creek by Todd Keisling

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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… 


Devil’s Creek is one of those huge, ambitious horror novels that either grips you and pulls you in or one that you never really connect with so you plow through the chapters, taking a long time to get through each page and finally there is a sense of relief when you finally finish it. I was in the latter category in this case, and I know that most of the fault is with me and not with the story. 

Devil’s Creek has everything that is good in a horror novel. It starts with a final ritual from a defunct cult, the six children survivors being known as the Stauford Six. These six grow up and go their separate ways, to become preachers, artists, meth cookers, police officers, and radio station owners. It seems like all of them have a dark cloud over them that they cannot outrun, and this shapes the way they conduct themselves as adults. And this is because the dark cloud has never left. Jacob Masters, the leader of the Devil’s Creek cult is poised to make his triumphant return to wreak havoc on the town and to claim the Stauford Six back to the glory of God. 

The novel unfolds in a slow and steady way. Todd Keisling says that he made this as a novel that has a town terror, where the entire town is in peril, like ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, where an infection quickly sweeps through, and nobody in town is safe. He also says the length is mandatory to the way he wants to tell the story, so Devil’s Creek being such a huge book is done with purpose. He explores the entire town and lives of many characters. This detailing made the story move so slow for me until closer to the end. I know that there are glimpses of the future ending throughout, but it was not enough to get me hooked on the story and excited to see what was going to happen next. 

I did enjoy this novel, but I did not connect to the story until the last one hundred pages, so the first three hundred took me forever to read. I feel like this is more my taste as a reader than Todd Keisling’s writing. He does a great job with realizing his vision and the story does unfold and becomes a solid horror novel. Even though I did not attach to this novel like I thought I would, I do see all of the merit and will be recommending it to some readers in my life who might call me crazy for not loving it. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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