The Devil’s Staircase – Helen Fitzgerald


Writer: Helen Fitzgerald

Genre: Horror/thriller

Released: 2009

Blurb: Bronny, a young Australian, finds herself down and out in London. She’s a sweet girl who has spent her teenage years in a fearful, cautious bubble. She’s never taken drugs, had sex or killed anyone. Within six weeks she’s done all three. A group of backpackers break into an abandoned London townhouse seeking a rent-free life of debauchery. They don’t realise someone’s already there: a terrified woman bound and gagged in the basement. The Devil’s Staircase combines a chick-lit voice and a dark crime noir environment. Not for the faint-hearted, The Devil’s Staircase is funny, sexy and disturbing – it will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

This book does so well reading as though it’s a movie. I loved how easy it was to read with all the twists and turns and surprises that you didn’t see coming, while never leaving you behind.

It’s about a girl called Bronny who hops on a plane from Australia to London without a second thought. No bag or preparation whatsoever. This is what captured my interest, because isn’t this what we all dream of doing sometimes? Just getting away spontaneously?

Upon arriving in the UK, she quickly makes friends at a backpackers where she stays before they all become squatters together in an abandoned townhouse.

But this story quickly becomes a cautionary tale for any young, solo traveller.

Unbeknown to Bronny – or seemingly the rest of the group – there is a woman gagged and bound in the basement of the house. The story quickly becomes disturbing, scary and really unnerving.

Having gone on this huge horrific adventure of a girl in a big city with a murderer on the loose where you don’t who to trust, all the while trying to figure out who Bronny is as she comes of age, I was mortified by the ending.

I was baited through a dark forest of monsters, temptation and intrigue before being dropped off the edge of a cliff. What the hell. The ending is SUCH a let-down.

Does the ending fit with the story? Well, yes I suppose it does. On paper, the ending is perfectly in-keeping with the novel. But it’s simply not the ending I wanted! Even though I couldn’t relate to the protagonist very much, I was still too emotionally involved with the story for it to end the way it did.

This novel taught me that I don’t like horrors. I prefer crime/thrillers. This was of no fault of the author, just of the genre itself.

If you want a quick read, and you love horror, then read The Devil’s Staircase. But get ready for the moment when you read the final chapter, close the book and sit on your bed staring into space for twenty minutes before you’re ready to return to reality again.

It’s a shocker.

Jodie’s rating: 5/10

About NZ Film Freak

I am a journalism graduate (2014) from New Zealand. Currently working in marketing, and writing fiction in my spare time. I love to write about movies on this blog when I can. I also do paid reviews and voiceovers via Fiverr (nzfilmfreak).
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