The Devils You Know

“Nazis, and Devils, and Mobsters, Oh My”

Review by Joey Madia

Comprising 13 stories written over 26 years, The Devils You Know is a fun—and at times deeply moving and enlightening—collection of a who’s who of literary monsters, human and otherwise. From vampires to werewolves, mobsters to Nazis, braggadocio writers to Old Nick himself, Miles Watson serves up a cast of memorable villains who at times don’t seem all that different than you or me.

The first story, “Road Trip,” is a ready reminder that the worst of the vampires (aside from the shiny ones) are psychic vampires, which doesn’t mean they won’t also drain your blood. This particular set of fang-bangers are like a modern-era Fitzgerald cast mashing up with bloodsuckers. With names like Victor, Tasha, and Diabolique, dressed in Bohemian clothing and John Lennon sunglasses and zipping around in a convertible, these #firstworldproblems phonies say things like, “I feel the need! The need….TO FEED!” (cue the eye roll). Trust-fund Paris Hiltons, they also travel with a werewolf, which is admittedly progressive of them.

Next is “Nosferatu,” thought to be Romanian for vampire. Most people know it because it was German Expressionist filmmaker F.W. Murnau’s workaround title when he couldn’t get the rights to Dracula from Stoker’s widow. This is our introduction to the Nazis. At the opening, we meet a wounded officer named Raus delirious from blood loss. His unit has just had a losing encounter with the Russians. In what is a recurring theme in the volume, Raus intermittently reflects on the past through complementary scenes throughout his timeline that paint a 3D picture of a usually 2D trope. This technique, coupled with Watson’s talent for writing about war, allows him to show these “devils” as almost mundanely human. It’s rare to read or watch a story about a Nazi and find ourselves identifying with them. Continue reading