Billy Moon is an international rock star. He should be happy, but he’s haunted. He’s fairly sure he might’ve forfeited his soul when he agreed to become famous, and with his next album in the works, he feels like the devil himself is on his heels.
I feel like I should’ve loved this book, but it lacked something. Partly in this being a debut novel, it has that “first time out” feel. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the writing style or characters, but none of it sang. It feels like Wynne is an author that wants to be the next voice of horror, but he ends up being a pale imitation. “Imitation” feels like a keyword here, because this book felt a lot like Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box. Once you read enough horror, it starts to feel like everyone is mimicking someone else, but to this degree, it’s bothersome.
The Devil of Echo Lake is trippy in its horror at times, but it’s never flat-out scary and rarely visceral. Studio time spent in descriptions of the technical aspects of the industry could’ve been interesting and impressive if the book had delivered on any other level. Instead, it makes those passages seem slow and plodding because there’s generally no horror payoff to be found. I don’t mind story-driven horror whatsoever, but the story was flat.
The one thing that does deliver is the twist. I won’t give it away, but it was a great direction to go in. It’s the strongest thing about the plot, but it sadly doesn’t compensate for the so-so characters. Especially when calling it a “twist” is probably generous. It’s more just a change in pace from one possible plot-point to another. So even that fizzles when I wish it had popped.
It passed the time. It was all right. That’s really the most I can say.