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Devils Within

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  889 ratings  ·  191 reviews

Killing isn’t supposed to be easy. But it is. It’s the after that’s hard to deal with.

Nate was eight the first time he stabbed someone; he was eleven when he earned his red laces—a prize for spilling blood for “the cause.” And he was fourteen when he murdered his father (and the leader of The Fort, a notorious white supremacist compound) in self-defense, landing in a treat
Kindle Edition, 404 pages
Published October 31st 2017 by Sky Pony Press
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S.F. Henson Thank you! That truly means a lot to me. I don't have any other books out yet, but I am writing. You can keep an eye on my webpage or follow me on Twi…moreThank you! That truly means a lot to me. I don't have any other books out yet, but I am writing. You can keep an eye on my webpage or follow me on Twitter for updates. (less)
S.F. Henson Thanks for pointing that out! 390 is the correct number of pages, not including the Acknowledgements. I'll get it corrected on the description. Thanks…moreThanks for pointing that out! 390 is the correct number of pages, not including the Acknowledgements. I'll get it corrected on the description. Thanks for reading!(less)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  889 ratings  ·  191 reviews

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"It's not the job of people of color to educate white folks on how they deserve to be treated and on what is and isn't racist. This is a burden we've been putting on their backs for far too long."

Looking for a teen-centric version of 1998’s American History X? Check out debut author S.F. Henson’s award-winning novel, Devils Within.

Devils Within features a teenaged Nate who has been released from psychiatric care after murdering his white-supremacist father. Nate grew up on a neo-nazi compound
Nathaniel Fuller was born into a white supremacist compound in Kentucky. There was no escape for him, his mother, or his best friend Kelsey: if you tried to leave, you were hunted down, brought back, and beaten into submission. Nate’s “freedom” came in the form of a juvenile prison sentence. Then he’s sent to live with an uncle who despises Nate for his past. Nate hates himself, too. Things get even more complicated when the one classmate who’s nice to Nate is a black guy. Nate likes Brandon,
Rachel 007
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beta-read
I had the pleasure of beta-reading Sarah's debut novel back when it was just a tiny thing, and even though that was a while ago, I'm STILL thinking about it.

This book was haunting and real and heartbreaking. It's about trying to move forward when you feel like you can't and being followed by flashbacks and memories. It's about family and what makes a family. It's about Nate, who feels like he shouldn't be able to move forward for the stuff he's dealt with in the past. It's damn good. Why isn't
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-books, fiction
It’s appropriate that the name S.F. Henson bears a striking resemblance to the name S.E. Hinton. Both names belong to southern women who have an incredible knack for capturing the voices of troubled boys in their stories, and I don’t just read their books, I devour them. It’s been awhile since I read The Outsiders or Rumble Fish, so I can’t explain their power, but I can do my best to explain what makes Devils Within such an incredible debut.

The story centers around Nate, who is traumatized by h
Corabel Shofner
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swanky-17s
It is painful to look evil in the face. Do it anyway.
Paula  Phillips
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devils Within tagline read "American History X" for teens. Nate is the son of the leader of a White supremacist group known as The Fort. It is all he had known except for the few years when his mother escaped with him and began life on the run. That was until she was killed and Nate was sent to live with his father back on the fort. Nate was brought up to be a killer and to hate everyone who was not white and pure. That was until one day he snapped and had enough, and in a situation where only o ...more
Nina Rossing
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, young-adult
Realistic, deeply unsettling, and convincing.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it was weird caring about a former neo-nazi, but i guess that's a real testament to the way his character development was written.
Jenni Frencham
Nate was raised within The Fort, a white supremacist faction within the state of Kentucky. He learned to hate those who were different, to protect those who were the same, and that violence is the answer to just about everything. But Nate was able to escape after killing the group's leader who was also his father. Now he is being released from treatment and is supposed to start a new life with his uncle. Nate is suddenly surrounded by those he was taught to hate, and he is trying his hardest to ...more
In a year with a lot of standout books about violence towards marginalized people, Devils Within tackles hatred in America from a new angle. The novel tells the story of a teenager who escaped a neo-Nazi compound after killing his father (not a spoiler - this has happened at the beginning of the book). Nate is a victim but isn't an innocent; before leaving the group, he took part in a long list of hate crimes. Henson shows Nate trying to make sense of the "regular" world, trying to understand th ...more
Disturbing realistic fiction, all the more haunting because it's based on fact. I never would have read this if it hadn't been selected as a 2018 Morris Award nominee. Exposes racism and hate crime from the point of view of a teenage boy who escaped the white supremacy compound where he had been born and raised, by killing the group's leader - his own father - in self defense. Living in hiding with a new name in a different town with an uncle he never knew he had, he experiences flashbacks, hear ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nuanced, poetic, and thoroughly engrossing! My heart ached for Nate, and I cheered as he worked past his demons and came into his own. Not for the weak-stomached, but a very, very worthwhile book in every respect. Can't wait to see what the author writes next.
Joanne O'Sullivan
Timely and harrowing, this is an important read especially for teens. This would be a great choice for school reading groups or classroom discussions of white supremacy and racism in America. Henson brings complexity to the issue in an engaging and emotionally charged narrative.
Jamie Jones Hullinger
Wow. Just wow. Well done S.F. Henson. Should be required reading in high schools.
This is a hard-hitting book which should be required reading for high school students. It's not getting the notice it deserves.
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know what made me pick up Devils Within. Aside from the blurb, the content is probably something I should have avoided—out of fear of finding something within the book that might set something off in me. Some racial implication or misstep. But Devils Within is the first book I’ve read of its kind and it does for the race conversation something I’ve never seen done by a non-person of color.

Nate is a former Neo-nazi. He’s killed and hurt people. One of them being his father. He murdered hi
Molly Dettmann
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5. Wow. Thank you 2018 Morris Committee for putting this book on my radar. What a powerful, scary, and thought-provoking read. After he escapes life as a neo-Nazi by killing his father, Nathanial is sent to live with his uncle and slowly starts to live a normal life away from hate, hurt, and crime. Not long after, a reporter tricks him into a revealing interview, the skinheads are back and Nate and the people he has grown to understand and befriend are in danger.

I highly recommend this book.
Esther King
This book has become a necessity, and I say that with the heaviest of hearts. There are indeed children out there, many of them, growing up in Neo-Nazi homes and compounds, and they need to be able to see beyond their bubble of hatred that they’ve been corralled into by their parents. This book, undoubtedly, will be an aid to those children, specifically when they’re moving out of those situations.

Nate’s growth as a person and character were important and interesting to see, and I really enjoye
Wow. This was fantastic. I liked how it was a new take-- a new angle. A kid raised in a Neo-Nazi compound gets out and tries to learn to be normal. It shows us some inner workings of these hate groups and helps us see someone struggle with unlearning the filth they've been taught. I think more people need to see that process, because even though most people aren't raised so extremely, we are all still raised learning racism. We have to see how to unlearn it and I don't think there are a lot of e ...more
Jeanie Phillips
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: episode-35
Wow! This is an utterly compelling look inside the white-supremacy movement in the US. SF Henson's book is fictional, but she has done her homework (thank you Southern Poverty Law Center), and the resulting story feels shockingly real. I so wanted Nate to escape his violent past, and yet I'm grateful that the author didn't succumb to a neat and tidy ending. Highly recommend.

Barb Middleton
The plot is interesting but I didn't think the protagonist's voice was consistently authentic. The reactions to him by minor characters are oftentimes one-dimensional as well. There are a few twists that kept me going.
3.5/5 The concept for this book was really awesome and I love the passion this author had for putting this honest story into the world. It cannot have been an easy thing to write. On the whole, I really liked this, but I didn't like some very specific things. For example, the choice to italicize the pronouns referring to Nate's dad just made those portions read awkwardly in my voice as if it was an emphasis versus a tool to let the reader know which specific person was being discussed. Definitel ...more
Kris Morahan
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nate grew up in The Fort a violent neo Nazi compound lead by his father. When he tries to escape the compound, Nate’s final confrontation with his abusive father ends in his father’s death. After spending time in a mental institution, Nate is released to the custody of an uncle he never knew and tries to overcome his learned prejudices. The first friend he makes at school is Brandon, an affable and popular black student. Nate is worried that his past will come out and that his father’s followers ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Last year, Nate Fuller murdered his father, the leader of a white supremacist compound called The Fort. Nate has been released from psychiatric care to an uncle whom his deceased mother referred to as “The Traitor.”

Nate now has to integrate into a world he’s never known before under an assumed name. However, he still has to work out his demons of the past.


Timely, fascinating, and violent: think of American History X in book form. Nate is a character you can’t help but root for, eve
Actual rating-4.5/5 stars

This was a fantastic read, but it was also a HARD read. Nate has fled from The Fort, the white supremacy campground where he was raised. He is no longer welcome there after killing their leader, his father, one night in the woods. Now, he is in hiding from them and, in a sense, from himself. Because he doesn't want to be the person who did all of those horrible things. And he doesn't want to let the Beast inside of himself out. But without it, he isn't sure who he is or
Kai Tomizawa
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was beautiful and disgusting. The story crushed me, and after reading it, i feel sad, hopeful, and emotionally exhausted. The hardest part for me is accepting that this isn’t a fantasy novel, white supremacy and its cult-like brainwashing tactics are very very real.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It tells the story of racism through a different lens. A 16 year old white supremacist is fleeing his violent and abusive past and all that he's known about hating non-whites. He's trying to survive in the present and has no hope of a future. It is about forgiveness, betrayal, survival, abuse, violence, and judging others through our own biases without understanding or wanting to understand the whole story. To me this was powerful. It correlates well with other stores such as ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I've never read a story from the perspective of a Neo-Nazi skinhead before, but boy, am I glad I just did. Henson writes with authority and authenticity from the voice of Nate, a young man raised in an extremist compound in Kentucky but who is trying to outrun and escape not only blood ties, but the blood he is responsible for spilling. How does one reinvent themselves? How do we repair harm caused to others? When, if ever, do we need to come clean about our past? How do we manage anger that is ...more
Phillip Henson
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Devil's Within was an engaging and often all too close to home exploration of racism in the South. Told through the viewpoint of a boy raised in a white supremacist camp understanding and growing out of the views he had been taught. SF Henson takes a very difficult and all too timely issue and handles it perfectly.
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S.F. Henson is the critically acclaimed author of Devils Within, a 2018 William C. Morris Award finalist, Alabama Library Association 2019 Young Adult Award winner, Kirkus Best Book of 2017, and YALSA 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults. Born and raised in the deep south, SF graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Animal Science, which she put to great use by attending law school. Her law ...more

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“Ink flows like blood from a freshly cut vein. My soul bleeds onto the paper. Bleeds and bleeds and bleeds until there's nothing left. Not a single word. Only when I'm empty do I see how to fill myself again, how to start being a whole person for once.” 1 likes
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