Scott King’s podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series.
In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world. Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.
Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark and fanciful stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.
And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, King himself becomes a target, with dreadful secrets from his own past dredged up and threats escalating to a terrifying level. It becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…
Hi and welcome to my review of Demon!
Huge thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite and to Orenda Books for the eARC.
Scott King is back for the sixth time, the sixth Six Stories podcast, of course composed of six stories, by six people, with Scott King as the interviewer, the ringmaster, the barrister if you will, but not the judge, because as usual, the judgement is ours, the listeners’, the readers’.
Scott King rakes up another old grave, dusts off another cold case, kicking up some dust and treading on some toes in the process. This time he takes us to North Yorkshire, where a heinous crime was committed in 1995: two twelve-year-old boys killed one of their peers in a rather brutal fashion.
The killers, Danny and Robbie, had been wreaking havoc in the small rural town of Ussalthwaite for a few months prior to the murder that landed them in a secure unit and rumour had it that one of them, if not both of them, was possessed by a demonic entity, goading them into doing atrocious things, earning them the nickname of “Demonic Duo”.
This wouldn’t be a Six Stories instalment if everything was as clear cut and straightforward as it first appears. Long-time Ussalthwaite resident Danny recently lost his mother to suicide and Robbie came to live in the town after a terrible accident robbed him of his parents. I couldn’t help but wonder: were the boys really under some sort of supernatural influence or were they just two kids acting out because they couldn’t process their grief, and might the murder have been nothing but a horrible accident? Some letters written by Danny to his deceased mum are included at the end of each chapter and they certainly seem to point that way, in those letters he comes across as a hurting lost and lonely little boy, not some demon spawn.
The next question is where Danny and Robbie are now. Released after an eight-year stint in a secure unit, they were reintroduced into society anonymously. Here too, a few massively important questions are raised: should child killers, even if they were children themselves at the time of the murder, be allowed to fly under the radar upon release into society? Should they even be released? Should they be punished or should all efforts go towards rehabilitation?
Like its predecessors, Demon is steeped in eeriness, making it really REALLY hard for the rational part of me to stick to its guns. Old witch tales and superstition, talk of demon possession as a result of a visit to Ussalthwaite in the ‘70s, fly infestations, the kilns and a recent mysterious suicide on the site of the 1995 murder, it all royally creeped me out.
I’ve seen praise for the Six Stories series from every sort of reader. Thriller fans, readers of contemporary fiction and die-hard horror aficionados alike, we all seem to be enjoying these tales Matt Wesolowski spins. It might be the unique format that does it, the podcast thing with its six interviewees, each shining a different light on the same case. It might be the excellent writing, vivid and colourful, yet bleak. Or the fact that it’s so very thought-provoking, nudging us to think about it long after we put it down. Of course the genre-bending aspect of it doesn’t hurt, the drama and the thrills and the chills all for the price of one.
Whatever it is, Matt Wesolowski has never let me down, not with any of the Six Stories, and not with Demon. This series goes from strength to strength, from high to high, and I heartily recommend each and every one of the instalments. Read it!
Demon will be out in paperback on the 20th and is out now in digital and audio formats. If you’re an audiobook fiend then do check out the audiobook, this entire series is even more brilliant in that format and I’m already looking forward to revisiting Demon by listening to it.