On a dark night in the summer of 1859, three men enter the home of Dr. Matthew Callahan and shoot him dead in front of his pregnant wife. Unbeknownst to them, Li Lian, his wife, hails from a long line of women gifted in ways that scare most folks―the witches of the MacPherson clan―and her need for vengeance is as vast and unforgiving as the Great Plains themselves.
Written to the child she carries, Devil’s Call traces Li Lian’s quest, from the Nebraska Territory, to Louisiana, to the frozen Badlands, to bring to justice the monster responsible for shooting her husband in the back. This long-rifled witch will stop at nothing―and risk everything―in her showdown with evil.
Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn
HOLY CANNOLI! Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn was amazing from the very first second I picked it up! I knew, from the very first few pages I would love this book, and my hunch was right. It was so much more than I thought it would be. Though it is marked as a horror novel, to me, it fits more as a Western/paranormal. I went into it expecting horror, expecting gore and scares and instead, got the saddest sads I’ve ever sadded. Pacing was fantastic, the writing spectacular, and the story itself remarkable touching and solid.
Now, I know I said it was Western Paranormal, and I don’t want folks that don’t usually lean towards fantasy type novels, or westerns, to be turned away. The paranormal aspect of this story is minimal compared to the actual beauty of the story. Yes, the protagonist is a witch, but what lies at the crux of this story is a sweeping tale of vengeance and love. Li Lian weaves a tale of regret and sadness so palpable, I had to stop myself from weeping. Written as a journal from Li Lian to her child, we understand from the start this will not end well or happy. Yet, I never really understood how sad and dark it could get. It’s the good kind of sad, the kind that makes you feel as though you’ve learned how to better live because of experiencing it.
The novel moved at a steady pace, neither going too quickly to grasp the action, nor too slowly to grow bored. Every single detail given was chosen for maximum impact and given at the exact right time. What was truly remarkable was how perfect the setting is for this tale. The landscape often reflecting the narrative of the story and the turmoil Li Lian experienced. From cities with a gravitas to ground the characters, to the wild plains of the newly charted western United States that mirror Li Lian’s growing recklessness? though that isn’t the right word, it fits well enough, Dorn uses the setting almost as an extra, ever present character that does more than set the mood. It sets the story.
Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. The high quality writing and construction never falters. I was left with such sadness, but with also the tiniest bit of hope, which might seem like folly considering how everything came about. Yet, I hope there’s room for a follow-up novel, which I will greedily and hungrily pick up! A definite must read!