The Devil in Silver: Book summary and reviews of The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle

The Devil in Silver

A Novel

by Victor LaValle

The Devil in Silver
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2012
    432 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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About this book

Book Summary

The Devil in Silver brilliantly brings together the compelling themes that spark all of Victor LaValle's radiant fiction: faith, race, class, madness, and our relationship with the unseen and the uncanny. More than that, it's a thrillingly suspenseful work of literary horror about friendship, love, and the courage to slay our own demons.

New Hyde Hospital's psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.

Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He's not mentally ill, but that doesn't seem to matter. He is accused of a crime he can't quite square with his memory.

In the darkness of his room on his first night, he's visited by a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It's no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down. Pepper rallies three other inmates in a plot to fight back: Dorry, an octogenarian schizophrenic who's been on the ward for decades and knows all its secrets; Coffee, an African immigrant with severe OCD, who tries desperately to send alarms to the outside world; and Loochie, a bipolar teenage girl who acts as the group's enforcer. Battling the pill-pushing staff, one another, and their own minds, they try to kill the monster that's stalking them. But can the Devil die?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The novel, expertly written, will leave you wondering about its many memorable characters and lingering over questions about fear, horror, madness, suffering, friendship, and love." - Publishers Weekly

"A story whose idea is much more engaging than the reading experience itself." - Kirkus Reviews

"More than a scary horror novel, this multileveled story challenges readers to consider the nature of madness, basic human rights, and the beast within us all." - Booklist

"Literary horror just found a new master. Profound, and profoundly terrifying, Victor LaValle's The Devil in Silver is a page-turning delight." - Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

"The Devil in Silver is the rare work that takes seemingly disparate parts and brings them together seamlessly into something entirely original. There is madness here, and it is infused with brilliance, and the result is a story that is as illuminating as it is entertaining." - Mat Johnson, author of Pym

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Reader Reviews

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Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC)

Will the Real Devil Stand Up
For a novel labeled as literary horror is was an absorbing yet strangely tender read raising questions through the wit, humor and dignity of the fascinating characters. The author gives voices to an invisible often misunderstood population. How Pepper became a resident in a psychiatric ward is totally believable and scary as who does not have some behavior in our pasts that could not be interpreted as a sign of mental illness. During his first night, Pepper is attacked by a hideous creature whose presence seems normal to both staff and patients. But, as Pepper is schooled on the protocols by the other residents – learning the creature is ‘the devil behind the silver door” is the visible demon as the more deadly demons are often the ones within the mind. Challenged by their restricted environment – the residents dig deep within themselves to slay the devil. It is the touching resident’s stories that will linger long after the last page.

Bob S. (Lawrenceburg, IN)

multiple genre
If you want to connect gentle humor with biting satire, wonderful insight into human character with a psychological thriller, then Victor LaValle's "The Devil in Silver" is your book. Even through the scenes of Gothic horror runs a affirmation of the goodness of human nature when we are free and able to make choice in the most difficult places--as Frankl points out, our lives have meaning as we give them meaning. Wonderful plot writing, fascinating characters, and the wacky bunch that make up this worthy successor to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Here you'll find the joy, despair, and hope of those in mental hospitals, but without the dark pessimism that pervades so much of the literature.

Kathleen W. (Appleton, WI)

The Devil In Silver
I simply cannot stop thinking about the characters in this book. I can't say that I enjoyed The Devil in Silver because it is so disturbing, but it is very well written and definitely worth reading. I kept reminding myself that this is fiction, this is fiction, but am haunted by the thought that it might actually be based on reality.

Daniel A. (Naugatuck, CT)

The Devil in Silver
This is a well written and amazing book. It has the undertones of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", but instead of dealing with Nurse Ratchett, there's a monster in Ward 4 as the main protagonist, Pepper would say.
There are many twists and turns in this story, and I couldn't put the book down. I enjoyed reading it.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good mystery thriller.

Jeanette L. (Marietta, GA)

The Devil in Silver
The story takes place in New Hyde mental hospital in Queens, NY where Pepper is taken after an altercation with undercover police even thought he does not belong there; Pepper realizes that he is now locked in a mental hospital. The first friendly face that comes to greet him is Dorry a long time patient who feels a friendly face should be the first thing anyone sees as she gives Pepper a tour of his new home. Many of the mayor players are very well developed giving us a look at the treatment of mental patients. I loved this book I had a hard time putting it down and when I did the characters remained with me.

Jane N. (Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey)

The Devil in SIlver
This is the first book that I have read by this author and I really enjoyed it ! This is not meant to be funny, but you will find yourself laughing out loud at some of the scenes. Life in an underfunded and understaffed metal hospital is not suppose to funny but sometime life is stranger than fiction and the interplay between the two works really well in this book. There is a lot to think about and discuss in this read. Enjoyable and highly readable.

...20 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Victor LaValle Author Biography

Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus and two novels, The Ecstatic and Big Machine, the latter of which won an American Book Award and the Shirley Jackson Award in 2010, and was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Nation, and Publishers Weekly. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Whiting Writers' Award, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the key to Southeast Queens. He was raised in Queens, New York.

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