Friend of the Devil
February 20, 2022

Book Review

Friend of the Devil

reviewed by Sadie Hartmann “Mother Horror”

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Sam Gregory is an insurance investigator prone to his vices and wise guy remarks. He is sent to a posh boarding school located on an island to inquire about a stolen, seemingly important, book.

Sam makes his acquaintance with the school’s faculty and students, interviewing them about the book and diving deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding its origins. Along the way, he bumps into a young journalist who has been tracking Sam’s every move.

Stephen Llyod’s writing style is accessible. Readers will find it easy to engage; sprinting toward the halfway point in no time at all. The words come together like a little movie for the mind–not surprising since Lloyd writes for television; effortlessly bringing that casual, audience engagement to his storytelling. Marketing for the book included a read-alike for fans of Joe Hill and Jim Butcher but that is pretty misleading. This book lands squarely in the hands of a much younger readership. A better comparison would be dark academia, like The Umbrella Academy mashed with Only Murders in the Building.

Sam Gregory’s salty personality and witty banter with literally everyone he meets is clever and entertaining. But the scenes read like thirty-five minute episodes for network television. The young characters feel like child actors delivering rehearsed lines delivered just right to land the punch and Sam, the grizzled war veteran is too on the nose. Nobody seems grounded in the story, just some cliched versions of people, like props, positioned throughout the story to contribute their piece before exiting stage right.

All of this to say the result is a lack of authenticity preventing readers from full investment beyond basic curiosity. Friend of the Devil is a book written to be adapted. It doesn’t add anything unique to the genre of supernatural suspense or leave a memorable, lasting impact on readers. Maybe it will be a great TV show.

Friend of the Devil is available at:


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