A History of Fear

Atria. Dec. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9781982199029. $27.99. HORROR
DEBUT The American expatriate hero meets the Devil in this debut from Dumas. In Scotland, neurotic university student Grayson claims that the Devil possessed him to commit murder. Framed as his memoir, Grayson details his fanatical Christian childhood in California in alternating flashback chapters that hamper the pacing of his struggles with independent life abroad. An unreliable narrator, Grayson blames everyone but himself for his angst, but even so, his worst qualities are merely his high opinion of his own intellect and his cowardice. Needing cash, Grayson meets D.B., the Devil in human form, and is hired to write a strange book for him, but after a childhood like Grayson’s, a mysterious, patient employer hardly seems frightening. However strange the material D.B. gives him to work with, Grayson’s social anxiety always overshadows it. Eventually, the influence of Grayson’s past mingles with his simmering jealousy towards a fellow student and ultimately ends in tragedy.
VERDICT Scariest and most relatable for collections with a young adult readership tackling college in the near future.
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