*Thank you to Titan Books for the eARC*
The Devil Makes Three is a dark-academia YA horror that follows Tess, a scholarship student and resident school librarian, and Eliot, the evil-headmaster’s privileged son, as they pair up to find grimoires and histories of dark magic to help Eliot on a personal quest and… accidentally unleash a book-bound demon. The two find themselves forced to put their differences and personal problems aside so they can work together to figure out what they seem to have set free, as Tess is all the while plagued by dreams of the devil and Eliot finds himself losing touch with the magic he has been struggling all his life to get a grasp of.
I’m mad at myself for having had an eARC of this since July and only now, in October, getting round to reading it, but I can’t deny that it fits perfectly on my scary October reading list. It’s a really dark story with a typical spooky setting and it had all of the atmosphere that I wanted from pre-Halloween reading. If you’re squeamish, it’s important to know that the author definitely doesn’t shy away from gore, but it really does help push the intensity and danger of the characters’ situations, and I do think that this was generally done well. Likewise, you should definitely look up the trigger warnings of this book before going into it as well, as there are a lot of triggering subjects such as child abuse, death and self-harm.
In terms of characters, I really liked the combination of Tess and Eliot’s perspectives. Tess was strong-willed, completely independent and unwilling to take anything from anyone, and Eliot’s quiet, inquisitive, hiding-behind-his-office-door nature made them a really fun pair to root for. It was a little strange at times that the way they described each other didn’t always completely align with the way that they actually behaved, but the use of both characters as protagonists made it much easier to understand both of them and why they might be falling for each other, despite their drastically different outlooks. It also definitely helped my enjoyment of this story that the rich-boy/scholarship-student romance trope is one that I love, and I may or may not have found rooting for them from before they even met (oops).
The story is a fairly straight-forward one, with a lot of intense moments of action and not a lot of twists. If you’re looking for a lot of surprises, this book may not be for you as it definitely relies more on atmosphere than mystery, but if you’re in the mood for a gory (for YA) page-turner, it definitely is. It’s an entertaining, not-quite-slasher-level horror with elements of dark academia, witchcraft and dark magic, and I’d absolutely recommend if you’re looking for some YA to get you into the Halloween spirit.