I was sent this book by the author but that doesn’t and would never affect my thoughts or my honest review.
Today I’m reviewing Devil in the Countryside written by Cory Barclay. This book is a historical novel combined with a thriller/mystery, at least that’s how I would describe it. It combines the world’s most famous werewolf hunt which took place in Bedburg, Germany in 1588 and some aspects about the Catholics/Lutherans/Calvinists fights during that time. Before I jump into the details, I should tell you that it gets a bit violent at times so if you can’t handle it you might want to skip reading this book. I personally had no problems with it but I feel like I should give a warning. Besides being a fun book to read, it also kept me at the edge of my seat. I loved the fact that I actually learned things I never heard of before, for example what actually is the Werewolf of Bedburg hunt about. It also deals with some other serious topics and I will get into those a bit later. For now, keep reading.
Title: Devil in the Countryside
Author: Cory Barclay
Published: 15th of February
My rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.
It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever – or whatever – the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart.
And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.
I firstly want to talk about the characters and how they were introduced in this book, which is in one of the most unique and interesting ways ever, in my opinion.
We start of at a murder scene and we read from the perspective of Heinrich Franz, an investigator. In that chapter, he meets Georg, a hunter and ex soldier. The next chapter is from his perspective. Georg meets Dieter Nicolas, a priest. The next chapter is from Dieter’s perspective. Dieter sees Sybil, a young woman, at a Mass. The next chapter is from her perspective. And then they start all over again: Heinrich, Georg, Dieter and Sybil. I loved that. I’ve never read a book that introduced its characters like this before and I was pleasantly surprised.
Each character is very different and it was very easy to realize who was who. Even if it wasn’t written at the top of the page, you could’ve known. Heinrich is mysterious, cold and calculating. Georg is intelligent, but a bit broken. Dieter is a man of God and thinks of everyone else before himself (at least for a while) and Sybil is sweet and loving, but also develops into a strong woman.
I want to share with you some of my favorite lines from the book (no spoilers, of course!):
„Give fearful men some drinks and they all become heroes”
„Tell me, son, how do you explain the air we breathe? Or the water we drink? How do you explain the sun in the sky, which gives us life and warmth, and the moon besides it, giving us peace and quiet? How are we able to learn so much, build such magnificent structures, and converse with each other, unlike any other beast? It is our souls that separate us from animals, Investigator, and if you believe man is responsible for the countless miracles bestowed upon us, without His righteousness, then you are more foolish and lost than I first believed”
„Would you like to go find out who our mystery woman is?
Right now? This late at night?
Precisely the best time, my good hunter.
But I’m drunk.
And you won’t be tomorrow night?”
„But what can you do? You’re just a girl.
I am just as strong as any man, Hue. Don’t forget that.”
As I said in my intro, besides being a fun, scary and educational book at the same time, it has some serious topics weaved into it. It deals with rape, an incestuous relationship and change of religions. I think it does it really well because these are not the main points of the novel, not at all, but they are there. I think Cory Barclay did an amazing job sprinkling serious topics here and there, making this novel ten times more important.
I enjoyed the fact that it was based on real events. Even though some of the characters were fictional, some of them actually existed. It talked about the Cologne War, which of course was real, and the fights between Catholics and Protestants, which, again, were 100% real as you probably know.
I did a lot of research after I finished this book to see if it stuck to the actual Werewolf of Bedburg plot and it did. It’s very hard to explain how without spoiling it, but believe me, it did. And piece of advice: DO NOT search about this event before finishing the book! I did and I spoiled myself with the identity of the actual real werewolf and a part of the plot but I still enjoyed reading it because I had no idea how what I read on Wikipedia could happen in Devil in the Countryside.
Another thing I was confused about and did some research. In the book there were used terms like „shit” and at first I was really confused because I thought „uh? Germany, 1588?” but yes. I researched the origins of that word and it actually came from Germany around 1500-1600. This is not so important but I felt like I should say it to skip you from doing research on it. So, the author actually used the right words and such for that time period and he showed some typical activities in 1588 Germany (like going to the tavern and.. you know), drinks (for example „ale”, which is something Georg and Heinrich always drank) etc.
So, I must say this is a really good book that you should totally pick up. I gave it four stars because I was a tiny bit disappointed about the ending but I think/hope that the sequel will fix that.
If you want a book that will keep you at the edge of your seat, go and pick this up!
Thank you again Cory Barclay for gifting me your masterpiece of a novel!