I confess....gothic thriller is another book genre I'd have been unlikely to pick up without the kind folks at Harper encouraging me to broaden my tastes. Despite the change, I went into Justin Evan's second book, The White Devil, with a really positive mindset. The plot and setting really intrigues me and it sounded like a ghost story for folks who might not normally read such things.
The book focuses on Andrew Taylor, a teen sent to England to redo his final year of high school by parents who are pretty fed up with his antics and are treating this as a final chance for him to redeem himself before they wash their hands of him. He is sent to a boarding school dripping with both prestige and history. Tradition is key and the handbook includes definitions of long-used school-speak terms for different years and the long-time uniform. Andrew has a bit of the usual new kid issues but things are shaked up when he witnesses the death of a classmate and begins to suspect a supernatural element at play. The book focuses on a ghost haunting and reaking havoc, a spirit that had been the subject of school rumors but is clearly spurred to more action by Andrew's presence. Other key characters are a teacher who isn't in the administration's good graces and the single femals student at the school. Andrew and the teacher work to figure out who the ghost is and what is motivating his actions to prevent further bloodshed (literally since the ghost seems capable of infecting the living with TB).
Unfortunately, I just didn't find the book all that interesting and I struggled to put my finger on why. I did find the characters interesting but they did often seem a bit too stock...the new kid, the administrator's daughter, the alcoholic writer-on-residence who the school leaders despise. I appreciated that the ghost's story unfolded at a good pace...little pieces uncovered to keep it moving but not all at once. I just was never pulled in, never looked forward to my nightly reading time, and was very much waiting for it to end. The writing was fine, but never felt special and I never had any trouble putting it down. Two and a half stars (of five).