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The Devil in Silver

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,016 Ratings  ·  382 Reviews
The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • Publishers Weekly

New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.

Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental instit
Hardcover, 412 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Spiegel & Grau (first published April 3rd 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
3.5 Stars.

Pepper has entered the mental institute. No real reason why. He is not insane. Well not much. He was taking up for his sometime girlfriend against her ex-husband and assaulted 3 plainclothes cops. He is supposed to be confined for 72 hours. Yeah right.
These characters are so fully described that I felt like I was right there with them. Shut up. I know it's the nut house. Dorry! I have a thing for old broads and this one was spectacular!

I kinda think she might be me in a few years. Bac
Sep 04, 2013 Katy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a good story
Recommended to Katy by: Amazon Vine
Book Info: Genre: Literary Fiction (per publisher); Dark Fiction (per me)
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Anyone who likes a great story

My Thoughts: This was one of those books I picked up because there wasn’t anything else that really appealed to me, and it just looked strange enough that I would enjoy it. Pepper seems like the kind of character I would enjoy, and I also tend to like stories sent in mental institutions. But imagine my delight when I found descriptions like this one:

Feb 15, 2013 Siobhan rated it it was ok
Sometimes I will continue reading a book even when I know its hopeless purely out of a sense of loyalty to the author. This was certainly the case here. I appreciated all of Mr. LaValle's efforts, and I actually quite like the way he writes, but the plot was just all over the place, and the premise of the story, while initially really captivating, takes several strange turns and completely loses itself, eventually becoming unrecognizable. In fact, the novel I finished was almost a completely dif ...more
Aug 14, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it
Many authors love to set their novels in mental hospitals - think of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Greenberg's I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Lehane's Shutter Island, McGrath's Asylum, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

The reason, of course, is that the setting allows the author to explore how life inside the cloistered walls of an institution is often indistinguishable from "real" life outside. And so it is with The Devil in Silver.

Pepper (so-called becaus
Glenn Williams
Nov 04, 2012 Glenn Williams rated it did not like it
They said this was "literary horror." They was right.
Oct 07, 2012 Algernon rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
"Literary horror" is a category I find unnecessary and a bit snotty. What is that supposed to mean? Is this somehow more "worthy" than genre fiction, something more intellectually respectable than a mere horror novel?

The novel itself is not so pretentious. It is an enjoyable, suspenseful, and occasionally touching novel about mental illness and captivity. Its metaphor is accessible and not overwrought. The setting is a hospital for the mentally ill that focuses less on treatment and more on sed
Mostly while I read this, I just kept asking, "Why?"
Why does the narrator break out and speak to the reader directly every so often?
Why doesn't anyone, including Pepper, care that there's this guy in a mental facility for no apparent reason?
Why am I listening to this?
Why did it take so long to get to the title of the book?
(view spoiler)
Christopher Buehlman
Dec 21, 2014 Christopher Buehlman rated it it was amazing
A super-sized Theseus takes on external and internal monsters within the vividly rendered walls of a mental institution in Queens. Always surprising, full of three-D characters, a little bit scary (for unexpected reasons) but even more poignant. Most importantly, Victor LaValle's prose is just plain fun.
Gregor Xane
Mar 08, 2013 Gregor Xane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Victor LaValle has a real gift for describing authentic "stage business," character gestures, ticks, and body language. These aspects of his writing seem to be drawn directly, and relayed expertly, from observation. This book is frightening and sad and very funny, too. The humor works so well because it's organic to the story, the characters, the situations. I had a few minor quibbles with this book (but they are things that are like personal pet peeves more than anything), but not enough to det ...more
Baal Of
Oct 19, 2015 Baal Of rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my biggest fears is the loss of autonomy, specifically when it involves being incarcerated in a mental institution, or retirement home, so this book is aiming straight at my psyche. LaValle has written a novel that is painfully human, creepy, and distressing, and it seems to present a much more realistic portrayal of inmates and staff than does "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", which means it affected me much more strongly. The monster of the book is almost peripheral to power of this st ...more
Michelle {Book Hangovers}
This was my first Victor LaValle book and it will certainly not be my last.

I found LaValle to be quite cleaver and remarkably comical. At first I thought this book was going to be a horror but even though it was at times scary, I found it to be more of a modern day thriller/mystery. This book intertwines elements of madness, friendship, and courage. A story challenging readers to consider the monster within us, the "devil" inside us all.

This book was suspenseful, creative and at time bizarre. Bu
Sep 05, 2012 Bandit rated it really liked it
I received this book as an advanced reading copy and as such it had many errors, typos, fairly sizable glitch in describing the main character and a bit of continuity with timing, all of which I presume is going to be taken care of for the actual print edition.
I haven't heard a thing about the author or the book prior to reading it and I was very impressed with it. There were a few minor things that were off, particularly and most noticeably racist slip ups and semi slurs, to the point where th
Aug 16, 2012 Darryl rated it really liked it
Pepper is a fortysomething blue collar wise guy from Queens, New York, a big man whose height and girth are exceeded only by his unfiltered mouth, naïveté, and unique ability to make every bad situation much worse. His reverse Midas touch lands him in the psychiatric unit at New Hyde Hospital, after his chivalrous attempt to protect a neighbor causes him to engage in a brawl with three men, who unbeknownst to him are undercover NYC police officers. The cops drop him off at New Hyde, where he is ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Gerhard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Any book about the iniquities of the mental-health system in the US, and how this is a microcosm of the larger society, has to contend with the legacy of Ken Kesey. One of LaValle's characters not only references One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, but offers a half-baked critique of the book as not being about 'real' people. Well, would you believe that one of the inmates in LaValle's New Hyde is actually the Devil?

Neither did I. This is the weakest aspect of this novel, which could have happily d
Irvin Sha
May 03, 2013 Irvin Sha rated it it was ok
I started reading this book because I've been slogging through Acemoglu's book "Why Nations Fail" and needed some sort of fiction to reignite my page-turning interest. On that front, this book delivers. That said, I don't think it delivered a whole lot else.

Note - Some spoilers follow.

In brief, this book is a chronicle of a man's time in a mental institution, in which a Devil also happens to lurk, hunting the inmates. It can also be read as a not-so-thinly veiled critique of our nation's mental
Jan 18, 2013 Stephen rated it really liked it
This book is probably more of a 3.5, but it flirted with being a great book for most of the way. This makes the ending seem more disappointing than it really is, I suppose. Anyway, the story takes a sober-eyed approach at life inside a psychiatric ward of a large hospital. LaValle does a fine job of exposing the culture of mental institution life in the 21st century. The loss of autonomy and the absence of any prospects in the outside world make most patients accept their fate with little resist ...more
Lexxie (un)Conventional Bookviews
Sep 22, 2012 Lexxie (un)Conventional Bookviews rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: psychological horror fans
*I got a free ARC of this book through net-galley in exchange of an honest review*

This and other reviews can be found on my blog : (un)Conventional Bookviews

*Trigger warnings : suicide, abuse by people in a situation of power, murder*

New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.

What an accurate introduction to this psychological horror story.
Aug 06, 2014 Mike rated it liked it
The Devil in Silver had a lot of interesting things to say about the nature of humanity and modern society, things that ought to be dicussed more frequently because they are important. Unfortunately I think it was trying to say too much and all its messages sort of tripped over each other.

To name a few of the themes:

-How the social systems people are a part of (in this case underfunded mental hospitals) alter their behavior and moral decisions.
-The chronic underfunding of social safety net insti
Irene B.
Sep 26, 2012 Irene B. rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I found this book on the library's on-order list and thought it looked interesting. Halfway through and don't feel like picking it up tonight. I had just read Syndrome E, an excellent psychological thriller, but this novel pales in comparison. The characters remain mostly undeveloped and caricatures of people with mental disabilities. I was expecting something more--a novel about Queens and people trapped in an asylum--it should move. Even the so-called "devil" is a vague thing. Also the author ...more
Patrice Hoffman
Sep 04, 2012 Patrice Hoffman rated it really liked it
*Won through a giveaway*

This is the first novel I have read by Victor Lavalle. Literary horror at its finest. A man named Pepper finds his self to be an inmate at New Hyde's Hospital psychiatric ward. After being arrested for a crime, underpaid cops decide he's not worth writing a report on and drop him off for psychiatric observation for 72 hours. If only life were that simple in an insane asylum for a man who isn't crazy, he comes in contact with the Devil.

The whole book takes place in an ins
Angi Dee
Oct 28, 2012 Angi Dee rated it really liked it

Victor LaValle's new novel, "The Devil in Silver" is the perfect choice for a creepy reading the week of Halloween. While the book was marketed as a new addition to the horror genre, this is no Stephen King novel. Readers who expect it to be similar or a more typical horror story will be highly disappointed, however, if you are willing to try something new, this book is unexpectedly sweet and thrilling.

The premise of LaValle's story revolves around a tough
Dec 04, 2013 Joshua rated it it was ok
Maybe it was the fault of my library for listing this book as science fiction, but I was definitely expecting something else. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Because the devil is nothing more a man, albeit a crazy one, one has to ask what the purpose of this book was to begin with. Clearly, our protagonist, Pepper, has some s*** that he needs to get in order in his own life, and that his stay in the psychiatric ward is not altogether undeserving. But there were so many tangents in this book, so many sub
L. Michael
Sep 16, 2012 L. Michael rated it really liked it
I finished Victor LaValle's "The Devil in Silver" in 24 hrs. Literally. On the heels of Diaz's "This Is How You Lose Her," I wasn't prepared to get off my literary high. "Devil" is closer to "The Ecstatic" than the uber-ambitious and brilliant "Big Machine," but no less worthwhile in its observations of humanity, themes of fear, deeper revelations of our Banana Republic (yes, we're here already), and metaphorical allusions to our social group think rituals. It's got a slow middle (but, how slow ...more
Eric Kibler
Dec 12, 2012 Eric Kibler rated it really liked it
This book has been marketed as literary horror. It reads as neither self-consciously literary nor as horror. It's more of a screwball social novel.

It's about how life is what you make it, no matter where you are. It's about the breakdown of institutions. It's about mass delusions.

The book opens with our protagonist, a man called Pepper, as he is being inappropriately admitted to a psych ward by three cops. His 72 hour stay ends up stretching to months, as he gets to know the other inmates as p
Oct 23, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
Pepper is brought to the New Hyde mental institution, because he got into a fight with the police. He believes that the police have dropped him there, rather than do all the paperwork it would take to arrest him. He's sure that he'll be out after the weekend, but many weeks later he finds himself just another drugged out patient in the ward. They are all frightened of the wards' oldest resident, who sometimes slips into their rooms in the middle of the night, but why?

Pepper chooses to stay behi
May 05, 2015 Kawai rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a crowded field for authors delving into the business of mental institutions, so there's some of LaValle's premise that many readers might find stale. And while it's easy to search for comparisons to 'Shutter Island', 'One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest', et. al, that doesn't do THE DEVIL IN SILVER justice.

Reviews in the NYT and several other newspapers highlight the heart that's present in this novel, and I tend to agree: LaValle treats his characters with deep empathy, despite the awful abus
Scott Ellis
Dec 14, 2012 Scott Ellis rated it it was ok
I truly wanted to love this book. The premise of a man wrongfully (?) put in a mental institution in which the devil resides was too good to pass up. However, confusing shifts in points of view (jumping to omniscience randomly), a labored and tacked-on love scenario, and a bland and unfulfilling ending doomed it.
Sep 06, 2012 Jessica rated it it was ok
Shelves: suspense
A completely sane man does something really stupid and gets himself locked on a psych ward. Residents there claim that the devil himself lives on the ward and before long, our character believes it. I believed it too. Too bad the ending was a cop out and this book completely wasted my time. Boo!
Alisha W
Mar 05, 2016 Alisha W rated it liked it
Shelves: fall-winter-2016
This book was slow in spots and the transitions between characters and their stories wasn't very smooth. The book ended up feeling like several different books rather than one. But it was good enough that I plan to check out the authors other work.
Linda Harris
I liked The Devil in Silver, and I almost loved it but I just couldn't. The story began wonderfully enough but changed pace mid story. The conclusion offered by LaValle was lack luster, but oh did it have the potential to be great! This story sucks you in and leaves you eager to understand what the hell is going on, but in the end you're left with more questions than you started with. I think that's why I'm so disappointed by the ending of this story. There were too many unresolved issues for me ...more
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Victor LaValle is the author of the short-story collection Slapboxing with Jesus and the novel The Ecstatic, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.
More about Victor LaValle...

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“That’s the funny thing,” she said. “Men always want to die for something. For someone. I can see the appeal. You do it once and it’s done. No more worrying, not knowing, about tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I know you all think it sounds brave, but I’ll tell you something even braver. To struggle and fight for the ones you love today. And then do it all over again the next day. Every day. For your whole life. It’s not as romantic, I admit. But it takes a lot of courage to live for someone, too.” 9 likes
“Pepper woke up thinking of butts.
And nothing else.
Ladies' butts.
Skinny butts, big butts, saddlebag butts, flabby and firm butts, the kind that sit so high they seem like part of the woman's back, the kind that ride low and form a UU just above the thighs like in the old television commercials for Hanes Underalls, butts that wiggle and butts that jiggle, sagging butts and robust butts, butts that hardly make an impression under a pair of jeans; sidewinder butts and trumpet butts -- the ones so meaty they actually spread out until they appear to be a woman's thighs (ass so fat you can see it from the front), butts as knotty as acorns, butts as smooth as a slice of Gouda, butts with pimples and butts with cellulite, the kind that have pockmarks or red splotches, butts with tattoos and butts with bullet scars. Butts you can cup in your warm hands. Butts and butts and butts.
In other words, Pepper woke up horny.”
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