THE DEVIL’S DUE
Edited by Adam Messer
Valhalla Books is a relatively new name in the pulp field
and they are off to a great start with this premier anthology, “The Devil’s due.”
Presented for your enjoyment are fourteen stories in which the main characters,
much to their later regret, make packs with the Devil. It’s a classic theme, as
Editor Messer points out in his introduction, and every one these fourteen scribes
has a great deal of fun with that. So, we’re going to rank them here by our favorite
“The Devil You Know,” by Shane Nelson is a poignant
inspection of selfishness and its true cost to the human soul.
“Here Comes Mr. Herribone,” by Tim Jeffreys. A down and out
comedy duo discovers the secret to fame in fortune in a bizarre costume head
with disastrous results. Wonderfully creepy.
“Identity Theft,” by Rachel A. Brune. The Devil’s own
private eye investigates what could be the first ever bogus contract given the
Prince of Hell. An original tale with
different kind of world weary hero.
“Mary’s Secret,” by Winfield Strock III. Marty Todd
Lincoln’s letter to a friend reveals the awful sacrifice made by her husband to
end the Civil War which might contemn him to eternal damnation. Solid and
“Genevieve and the Owl,” by Mark Allan Gunnells about a
poor, village girl with a sorry lot in life until a magical owl offers several
wishes. She manipulates him with a cunning he cannot predict. Fun story with
nice surprise wrap up.
“Dante’s Tenth,” by Bobby Nash. The dessert town of Dante is quickly being
settled by folks from strange places as a love sick newspaper reporter soon
learns. Wonderful set up for a really well done weird western tale.
“The Black Rock,” by Alledria Hurt is a twisty little tale
of a young woman desperate to become a bestselling author and the strange black
rock with power to make her dreams come true. If she dares.
“Face It,” by Carol Gyzander. How important were his looks
and standing in the community? Enough to kill his wife? But is it too late to
make restitution. It all depends on the Judge. A creepy little thriller with an
“The Plan,” by Josh Vasquez. Dillion grew up planning
revenge against the minister who abused him as a child. What he didn’t count on
was the demon in the cast. Rough, brutal tale not for the squeamish.
“The Resurrection and the Life,” by Jude Reid. A young
medical school nearing the completion of his studies accidentally kills a man
while drunk. To save himself he’s forced to deal with an unscrupulous
“The Known and True History of the Djin,” by Adam Messer.
Wherein the book’s editor dons his writing cap and offers up the story of yet
another writer willing to bargain away his life for fame. Though well written,
the story’s rambling second half leads nowhere unexpected, as it should have.
“Sadie’s Choices,” by Ravyn Crescent. A girl kills her sister
and makes a deal with the devil. Then at the end she tries to break the
contract only to fall in love with Satan’s son. A complicated piece that left
this reader both confused and unsatisfied.
“Good Samuel Ritton,” by Samuel R. Grosse. A father will do
anything to protect his daughters from the world’s evils. Too predictable to be
In all “The Devil’s Due” thirteen cautionary tales are fun, with a few being especially memorable. With it, Valhalla Books is off to an auspicious start. Bravo.