How damn scary is The Damned?

What I read

The Damned by Andrew Pyper

What it’s about

To put it simply, The Damned is about a dead girl who haunts her twin brother. But that’s a little too simple, because there’s a lot more depth to this book.

The Damned explores the idea that twins have a special connection that isn’t really experienced in any other type of relationship. But it’s the angle that this relationship is explored that makes it different than other books about sibling relationships. The Damned looks at the destruction that this bond between twins can cause families and individuals.

The story is told from the first-person perspective of Danny Orchard. We get an inside look at Danny’s account of his relationship with his twin sister, Ash, both before and after her death. But, like Danny, the reader isn’t privy to the inner workings of Ash’s mind. We see what Danny sees. We know what he knows. We feel what he feels. And, like Danny, we are trying to figure Ash out.

How I got my hands on it

This was a book club pick. I’m not sure I would have read it otherwise. Pyper had been on my radar for a while, as I’d heard many good things about another one of his books, The Demonologist. But I was hesitant to give him a try because horror isn’t really a genre that appealed to me. I took this as an opportunity to try something out of my comfort zone and picked up a copy at the Toronto Public Library.

You’ll want to read it if…

I haven’t read any of Pyper’s other books, but judging from The Damned, he knows how to write a good horror story. Granted, I might be a bit of a wimp (I think my co-worker, who has read The Demonologist, thought I was joking when I said The Damned frightened me). And even for a wimp like me, it’s not like this book gave me nightmares or anything, but I did find it unsettling. It just gave me the heebie-jeebies.

There are supernatural elements in the book, after Ash has died and haunts Danny from “the After,” but those weren’t the bits that scared me the most. What was most frightening were the parts when Ash was still alive. That’s because it seemed so real, that what happened with this family could happen in any family.

It’s kind of a funny situation: Pyper is such a good writer that I don’t know if I want to read any of his other books—at least not any in the horror genre. But if horror is your thing, add The Damned to your reading list.

Recommended refreshments

Reading this before bed? Maybe make yourself a mug of warm milk or a hot toddy, just in case you need some help falling asleep.

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