Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Devil Wind

It’s 1985ish and I’m a young adolescent walking around our local K-Mart department store with my $5 allowance for the week. I’m typically scoping out the latest Hardy Boys installment, those cool “modern” ones with the explosive painted covers, or an R-rated movie novelization (living in the bible-belt, R-rated flicks were off the table, so my only option was to read the novelizations). But today…I see the incredible covers for a series of young-adult horror paperbacks called Dark Forces. I snag Devil Wind, the fourth installment, and camp out in my porch rocker to consume black magic, the occult, and the Dark Forces. I don’t recall the quality of the book, but I do remember enjoying it and picking up a few other books in the series before moving on to Stephen King, John Saul, and Dean Koontz.
Bantam published 15 Dark Forces young-adult paperbacks from 1983-1984. These were all stand-alone novels - roughly 160 pages – that challenged for market superiority among the crowded ranks of Point Horror, Goosebumps, Private School, and prolific author Christopher Pike (Kevin McFadden). That guy was everywhere. The series was authored by a rotating blend of writers including Scott Siegel, Les Logan, Bruce Coville, and Jane Polcovar. The collaboration of Paul Alexander and Laurie Bridges produced three series installments - Magic Show, Devil Wind, and Swamp Witch

For funsies, I tracked down a copy of Devil Wind and gave it an adult spin nearly 40 years removed from my first experience with the book.
The novel stars Peter Wardwell, a high schooler living in the small coastal New England town of Northport Bay. In the book’s opening pages, readers learn that a dilapidated house was recently demolished, and Peter found an old whistle in the rubble. With his new whistle, and his family’s boat, he takes his sweetheart Mary Jane (human not plant) to a small, hidden cove he discovers down the coast. Mary Jane immediately gets the creeps there and the place reeks of rotted flesh. But Peter insists they stick around and soon pulls out his whistle and takes a blow. A thick fog rolls in and the two become separated. Peter falls into a deep slumber and Mary Jane is rescued by a salty sailor. The two soon find Peter and bring him back home. Only, this isn't really Peter.
Over the course of the book readers experience Peter’s transformation from a kind American boy into a Satanic warlock from the 1700s. You see Northport Bay experienced a curse from Simon Wardwell, Peter’s great-great-gr….you get the point. Simon died in the little cove, along with his sadistic followers. But, when Peter blew the whistle, his body was possessed by this creepy Satan-worshiper. Between Mary Jane, the salty sailor, and a wise old woman in town, they must stop Peter from raising Hell on Northport Bay on Halloween.

As a breezy horror paperback, Devil Wind is a lot of fun to read. The four key characters made a great team-up to fight the forces of evil, complimented by the authors' emphasis on character development (despite the short page count). It's a young-adult novel, so don't expect any Jack Ketchum or Bryan Smith slaughterhouse action. Instead, the storyline is your classic small-town horror that places average people into extreme situations. I got the vibe of John Carpenter's excellent The Fog, so if that's your palette, then this should please any age group. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE

1 comment:

  1. I've actually got a copy of that one. I found it in a second hand shop about a month ago. The element with the whistle makes me think the authors may have read British horror author M . R James's short story 'Whistle and I'll Come For You' although the stories are completely different