Right along with serial killers, Satanic cults are a cultural fascination. Going back to Hammer films like The Devil Rides Out and Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and other demon films of the 1960s and 1970s, to the various versions of Wicker Man, to the tongue in cheek cult classic (pardon the pun) The Burbs, to last year’s very intense limited series The Third Day starring Jude Law, there is something about goat-heads, goblets full of blood, and campfire cannibalism that draws our attention and keeps it.
Inspired by a real-life vacation with her sister and dog, Iseult Murphy drills deeply into the core of this zeitgeist to deliver a novel structured according to the title—with chapters broken down by each of the seven days (plus a bonus eighth), along with an illustration for each by the author. If you are a fan of Secret Window, you might find the illustration of the screwdriver as ominous as I did.
The main characters are twin sisters, Irene and Vicky—one a button-down teacher, the other an adventurous university student with an eye for the guys; a priest (who, refreshingly, finds bravery in his faith, which is rare; usually priests are in some kind of crisis in the face of evil); a mysterious local family; and, in town, an interesting array of mechanics, tavern owners, police, and citizens.
Like all stories in this genre, it is very much “stranger in a strange land”—the two sisters, on break from their schools, have booked a quaint country cottage outside of Dublin to relax and bond, along with a miniature schnauzer named Ronnie.
Almost immediately, the two sisters know something isn’t right, after an encounter upon arrival with two vicious dogs appropriately named Thorne and Pilot and the teenage daughter of a local with some strange physical and mental afflictions. Continue reading