A single image haunted me for years. A woman gives birth to the devil while a house fire rages in the background, distracting all the people that could watch or help her deliver the baby. She soon dies when the child strangles her with his own umbilical cord. Gruesome as these images were, there was also a pang of symbolism in the entire tableau. A raging fire distracts the people, while the devil enters the world and kills the only witness not distracted by the fire. From this brief haunting scene grew the book I would like you to consider pre-ordering. I call it, A Devil’s Midwife.
The story begins with a young sixteen year old girl, Cassie, who has the power of foresight. This gift is not yet honed, and she has trouble trusting herself or what she sees. But what she sees does have a way of coming true, like the most devastating premonition she’s had, her father leaving. He has been gone almost a year when the story starts, and Cassie’s mother Faye, a woman with her own secret past, becomes pregnant. A former family friend, Jackson, is the father, and he moves in to take care of the farm.
Faye is where the entire family saga of strange powers began years before after the tornadoes that destroyed Xenia, Ohio. She was able to call upon a presence she felt in her isolation and anger after the storm, and this resulted in her realizing her own powers of evil. Years after the mysterious death of a local teen, Faye finds herself far away living on the farm and having Cassie. When she discovers her pregnancy at the start of the novel, she is excited, and soon manic at the thought of the new baby. Her health begins to deteriorate soon after.
Cassie makes her way through high school and a theater production of “The Crucible,” while dealing with her odd home-life, a shifty best friend in Lily, and a new romantic interest that may be destined for a terrible fate. A steady feeling of dread follows her wherever she goes. She knows that soon a vision will become real. But which one?
Tragedy does eventually strike, and Cassie is left devastated. Her doubts kept her from acting, and her mother’s health is becoming more alarming each day. Cassie folds into herself hoping her absence will keep any vision from coming true. A thanksgiving feast brings the narrative threads together, and the child enters the world. Cassie finally acts against the baby, but is it enough? Is she even right to do so?
In part 2 we meet a young boy living a life in a secluded farm town. His father is Jackson and the boy turns out to be the child born in part one. He survived the night of his birth and soon begins school in the nearby town with disastrous results. The sweet natured child realizes his potential for evil and violence and soon ensnares his father in a chain of events that results in death. On the run, the boy wanders into the woods never to be seen again.
In part 3 Cassie is older, wiser, and more broken after a life on the road in a traveling theater company has left her with little or no roots Her life on the road is soon to end and she has decided to happily begin a new life with her friend Leigh. On the evening of her last show she looks for her father in the audience; he’d written her a letter after fifteen years missing, and promised to meet her there. What she finds instead is William, the brother she tried to kill.
William stuns Cassie and brings her to a dream world in order to tell his story. We pick up where part 2 left off and learn how William became more evil. Once the trance is broken a chase ensues and Cassie’s hopes of a new life are dashed. She must fight for her life at the hands of her brother who has considerable strength, but Cassie has resolve to stop him before he can hurt anyone else. The final battle finds both protagonist and antagonist wounded and nearly dead. But which will survive? Which should survive?
A brief postscript wraps the book up, much like the ending of Atonement. Several threads come knotted together and the story leaves even the reader with doubts about what should have happened. Answering the question will haunt the reader for years to come.
I wrote this book to exorcise the initial image from my head, but also to consider the nature of evil and whether it is created or born in the world. The book also examines the nature of family legacies of evil, and whether children have the strength to overcome the faults of their parents. Thank you for considering a pre-order of this horrific but thought provoking novel.