Life is a hard road, something a Starving Reviewer who scrapes by from literary meal to meal understands. This week, the pantry has produced a coming-of-age tale that professes to pull no punches, to deliver a slice of realism pie for its readers. The ingredient list sounds good, but does Mr. Parent produce once he gets in the kitchen? Let’s find out!
But first, put your hand over your heart as we recite the Starving Review creed:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.
Let’s start out by saying this: this is going to be a short one. For my long-time readers, you know what that means. This meal is a top-notch one! It’s an interesting paradox that my culinary examinations are shorter for fine dining than cheap fast food, one generated by my desire to give away little of a good book for fear of hurting the enjoyment of the other diners about to sit down for a plate, while I do not good for an author trying to find his/her voice by simply dismissing an effort as ‘bad’ without saying why so that they can improve.
With that being said, Devil is good. Not just good, I’d say top-notch cuisine. The main characters are fleshed out superbly, the pacing is perfect, and it didn’t go overlong. It mixed subtle foreshadowing, glowing and realistic interactions and dialogue, with a real sense of understanding of the decades involved and the locations explored. There is both entertainment and meaning dripping like a delicate glaze from this slice of literary pie and I loved every moment of it.
One point that deserves special praise is the use of a book-within-a-book structure. Though this is a kind of layer cake that’s easy to get wrong (so very very wrong), Mr. Parent uses it with the careful touch of an expert chef. The ‘book’ within serves as flashback and foreshadowing, never crushing the pacing and always pushing the framing story onwards. Bravo to the chef for handling this oft-maligned technique so well!
So I am not doing a disservice to my fellow literary foodies, let me be plain in that this coming-of-age tale is a hard one. There are no punches pulled and nothing glossed over. However, as any proper tale, it isn’t impossibly bleak or continually set on a downward spiral. Still, if you are upset by realistic depictions of some of life’s darker sides, you might be put off by the events of Devil.
To come to a quick and final summation, Only the Devil Tells the Truth serves up a top-notch must-read coming-of-age tale filled with both tragedy and inspiration! I would strongly suggest you go to Mr. Parent’s table and get yourself a nice serving of this meal. Chew slowly … this is the good stuff!
FINAL VERDICT: ***** (A top-notch must-read coming-of-age tale filled with both tragedy and inspiration!)