Today I’m resharing my review of The Devil Upstairs by Anthony O’Neill which has just been published in paperback.
‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here‘ according to Shakespeare’s Ariel in The Tempest and if you read this book, you may be inclined to agree!
As far as Cat is concerned, her upstairs neighbour is the devil. She has moved to Edinburgh from Florida and is delighted to secure a property in sought after Dean Village at a knock-down price. Not long after she moves in though, she begins to realise why. Her upstairs neighbour Dylan is incredibly noisy, to the extent that she can barely sleep and occasionally resorts to staying a nearby cheap hotel to get a decent night’s rest. She is so sleep deprived and infuriated that her thoughts soon become murderous as she imagines ways to get rid of this neighbour.
Now anyone who knows what house prices are like in Edinburgh would know that [a] a house in Dean Village would be unlikely to remain for sale for a year, [b] you rarely get any house for under the asking price, [c] it would be really unusual for no-one else interested in buying a house in such a desirable area and [d] – if you get a house for £13000 under the already reduced asking price, alarm bells should be ringing! But Cat wasn’t from Edinburgh so how was she to know??
The noise which Cat has to put up with is not just your average noise from a neighbour that could be annoying though not intentional. Oh no, we’re talking hammering in nails in the middle of the night, running the washing machine at 3am, playing electric guitar loudly at all hours. This could be enough to drive anyone to murderous thoughts! When Cat turns in desperation to take up her friend Agnes’s offer she is expecting something cathartic like voodoo dolls. She knows there is something vaguely satanic in what Agnes is suggesting but has no idea of what she’s getting into…
The story started off in a quite light-hearted way, humorous even, but soon took quite a dark turn. A lot of the latter part of the story made me feel very uneasy. I don’t think I really believe in satanic rituals and an underworld etc but there is a sense of ‘what if’ throughout the book which was quite unsettling. There were lots of little devilish references scattered throughout the book, such as the restaurant called Casa del Fuego – house of fire – appropriate. There was, as there occasionally is, a wildfire on Arthur’s Seat – coincidence or a sign?
I’ve never had anyone living above me: all I can say is thank goodness! The Devil Upstairs had the feel of a Gothic thriller and a definite sense of be careful what you wish for. I really enjoyed the Edinburgh setting of the book which the author has described so well, although I may be eyeing the residents of Dean Village suspiciously from now on. It was a real page-turner for me as I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next to Cat, although at the same time I almost dreaded finding out. There were quite a few twists and turns as things did not turn out as I thought they might. A pacy, entertaining book with a fiendishly dark and clever plot!
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours and publishers Black and White for my copy. It should be available to buy or order from your usual book retailer. You can order directly from the publishers’ website here or order a Kindle copy here.
From the back of the book
In a quiet corner of Edinburgh, Cat Thomas is going through hell. She’s tried everything. He respects nothing.
If your neighbour was making your life hell … Would you call upon the devil?
Cat Thomas, a brilliant fraud investigator, has just relocated from Florida to a dreamy flat in historic Edinburgh. Everything seems perfect. Everything seems serene. Except for the unbelievably noisy wannabe rockstar upstairs.
Soon Cat’s blissful new life is in ruins. Desperate, she’s willing to try anything. When all else fails, she makes an appeal … to Satan.
And suddenly everything is eerily quiet. But her nightmare has only just begun …
About the author
ANTHONY O NEILL is the son of an Irish policeman and an Australian stenographer. He was born in Melbourne and now lives in Edinburgh. He is the author of seven novels including The Dark Side and Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek, recommended by Ian Rankin as ‘clever, gripping and reverent’.