The Devourer by Chris Chelser
The Devourer is an occult psychological horror novel by Chris Chelser.
Paris, 1858: Mercedes Fabron, pragmatic wife and childless mother, has her hands full running her husband’s fashion shop and navigating social etiquette. All of which would be considerably easier without uninvited ghosts haunting her night and day.
Out in the streets, people are dying of an undetermined cause. The newspapers speak of an unknown disease, the police speak of accidents. But when a dead man is found in her stairwell, Mercedes has every reason to suspect something
much more sinister. Only the ghosts know the truth, but they are too afraid to tell.
As if they are scared to death of what is out there.
This novel, The Devourer is a very well written book, it was a pleasure to read such good prose and it shows that the author took her time to do the research needed to recreate Paris of other times and all the rest that that implies but also shows the knowledge of paranormal phenomena, like life after death, soul immortality, the reward of the just and the punishment of the wicked advocated by some schools of thought.
The number of characters is reduced and we don’t get those over complex plots and no ending number of subplots and this could go against the author in the end if the characters were one dimensional but it is not so in this case as the characters – specially the main character is so well rounded that she can absorb almost all of our attention.
It is a masterful psychological horror novel, you get all the paranormal with the reading of cards, runes, astral voyages (out of the body travel), disembodied beings who can be angel like guides or demons but don’t read these as completely good or completely evil entities – they might have a bigger percentage of one of these attributes but then they have varying amounts of the opposite characteristics which make them much more complex and believable.
I really enjoyed knowing more about Paris of times gone by, their life style, their beliefs, the fear of epidemics, etc. The psychological horror parts grabbed me and made me think about several issues, among them: forgiveness, suicide, honor, gilt, love, hate, letting go, self-loathing and self-forgiveness.
Regarding the plot I can’t tell you much as I don’t like to introduce spoilers in my reviews but roughly it is about a married lady – Mercedes Fabron who had lived through some trying family issues and she has a special gift and it is through this gift that she will encounter some entities who will change – for better or for worse her life, the life of the aforementioned entities and that of those around her in the world of the living.
A Word from the Author
The Devourer began as an excuse to apply my love of ghost stories to the fascinating Paris of Victor Hugo. An innocent enough story, until its characters held up a mirror so dark I could barely stomach the thought of writing another word.
To save her daughter, Mercedes Fabron must first save herself: from society’s unrelenting prejudice, from the silent pain of an old loss, and from the emptiness inside that threatens to consume her. A constant daily struggle in itself, never mind the insatiable hunger of the destructive ghost that has set its sights on her!
Blood is thicker than the water under the bridges of the Seine. Beneath the creepy ghosts and soul-eating demons, The Devourer is ultimately about two people dealing with the scars of loss, depression and suicide – and surviving.
(Chris Chelser, September 2017)