Told as an ongoing letter to a friend, Winnie’s story is a heartrending mystery and a pop culture critique in the vein of Libba Bray’s Going Bovine and Beauty Queens—with illustrations throughout that recall the quirky, dark, and distinct aesthetics of Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Winnie Flynn doesn’t believe in ghosts. (Though she wouldn’t mind a visit from her mom, explaining why she took her own life.) When her mysterious aunt Maggie, a high-profile TV producer, recruits Winnie to spend a summer working as a production assistant on her current reality hit, Fantastic, Fearsome, she suddenly finds herself in the one place her mother would never go: New Jersey.
New Jersey’s famous Devil makes perfect fodder for Maggie’s show. But as the filming progresses, Winnie sees and hears things that make her think that the Devil might not be totally fake after all. Things that involve her and her family. Things about her mother’s death that might explain why she’s never met Aunt Maggie until now.
Winnie soon discovers her family’s history is deeply entwined with the Devil’s. If she’s going to make it out of the Pine Barrens alive, she might have to start believing in what her aunt is telling her. And, find out what she isn’t.
I received a copy of this book for review, this does not influence my review or thoughts on the book.
Anything with illustrations and the promise of a twisty ghost story is irresistible to me, and The Devil and Winnie Flynn did not disappoint. I enjoyed the ghost parts, the illustrations and most of the romance but I didn’t really enjoy the petty parts of the romance.
When Winnie’s mother passes away, her estranged aunt recruits her to join her on her ghost-themed reality show: Fantastic, Fearsome. As Winnie grows closer to uncovering the mysteries of her mother’s death and to the cute ghost-hunter Seth, she learns more about the paranormal and explores whether she really believes what her aunt says or not.
I thought the plot of The Devil and Winnie Flynn was pretty interesting. I liked the horror elements and there were definitely some creepy parts (including a seance scene *shivers*). The setting and writing style really worked for me: it was equally creepy and personal (as the novel is addressed as a letter to her best friend). The illustrations also added and extra oomph to the story and definitely helped create the illusion of Winnie as a reality show personal assistant.
My only minor grievance with this novel was the romance. It started off as a longing (based solely on appearance but written as an attraction of personality) that quickly escalated into a petty jealousy and then obviously progressed to the reveal of true feelings. I didn’t like it at first but by the end, I thought the romance was pretty adorable. The novel isn’t romance-heavy in any sense so it doesn’t really make or break the novel.
Overall, The Devil and Winnie Flynn is an interesting new novel that I recommend to fans of paranormal/ghost YA. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and plot of the novel and I can definitely see myself recommending it to fans of the supernatural and questions of “what if?”