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The Devil's Own Work

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  134 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Winner of the coveted Guardian Fiction Prize in England, The Devil's Own Work is a subtle, hallucinatory tale of possession. A world-renowned writer living in the South of France owes his extraordinary career to a mysterious literary spirit - is it a demon? - that controls him. The existence of this supernatural muse, and the price it exacts, remain hidden, until the famou ...more
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published July 14th 1997 by Random House Value Publishing (first published 1991)
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The Devil's Own Work is a beautifully written, subtly told Faustian tale, which the narrator performs perfectly.

A man relates the story of his friend, Edward, and how he became a famous and successful writer. A writer who, although he writes many words, ultimately has nothing of substance to say. Further along, we discover that Edward inherited a manuscript from a recently deceased author named Tyrell. With that manuscript he also seems to have inherited a beautiful, ageless woman named
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the old-school horror vein of an M.R. James, no outright gore just subtlety, atmosphere and suggestion. An invitation from a world famous author to the man who just penned a scathing critique of his latest work, is the basis of the story. As we move through the tale it becomes apparent that all is not as it seems and the authors' success is directly related to an ancient manuscript. Add in a mysterious woman who is associated with the author and the enigmatic story deepens.

I listened to the a
The Devil's Own Work is exquisite in its precise delivery and command - I felt I was in the hands of a master. Matt Godfrey's narration is a compliment to Alan Judd's prose, capturing perfectly the tone of the story and adding nuance in all the right places. I loved every moment. I also found this story to be timely as hell with the assertion that evil is the destruction of truth (and the opposite of art). The Devil's Own Work, indeed. The commentary on literary criticism and the literary world ...more
Bonnie Owen
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novella is an interesting story of obsession told in the form of possession. The narrator is an observer to his friend, Edward's, demise. Edward is a rising author who wrote a not so favorable critique of O.M. Tyrrel's most recent novel. Edward is invited to meet with Tyrrel, who mysteriously dies that same night. Edward's career then skyrockets, but at what cost? Edward appears haunted, even tormented, despite his fame and success. The tale involves an old manuscript that appears written i ...more
Virginia Aronson
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An odd little tale about the dark side of being a writer, this novella does what good novellas do best. It tells a memorable story quickly in the sharpest of prose, providing useful insights in a plot rich with metaphor. Highly recommended for writers who like to think about the dual nature of literary fame.
Cynthia L'Hirondelle
Created subtly shadowed supernatural literary world and an intriguing tale in 100 pages on the nature of writing, books and losing autonomy for commercial success.
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't even really realize how much I had enjoyed this book until the very end which is strange considering how rocky my start with it was. For one thing this book is really, shall we say, un-intense? I started reading it in bed and I couldn't keep my eyes open, I actually fell asleep while reading it and after waking from my short nap I tried to tackle it again. The writing isn't perfect and sometime's the characters fall into the classic horror genera stupidity needed in order to progress th ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, horror
Short and entertaining story written with care.
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful gem of a book that engages as much by what it leaves out as what it includes. Recommended by Stephen King in "On Writing."
James Adams
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vintage-horror
This was an interesting, and very literary, take on Faust, with a bit of metaphorical vampirism thrown in. There is nothing explicit here, neither violence nor sex, but there is quite a bit of implied sex.
The narrator's friend, Edward, becomes a major literary figure after the death of a major author. That is the premise of this subtle chiller, which the author uses to skewer the literati and question the trade-offs of fame. His conclusion seems to be that artists need to be true to themselves,
This was a strange, creepy novella. I've put it down after reading and it feels, the more I've left it alone, that it deserves a re reading when I will probably pick more out of it.

Stephen King and his son Owen rate this as an excellent read. Who am I to disagree?! It's one of those reads that niggles away at you; the story is pretty devilish.........
Tight, visceral, brilliant little novel with tunnel vision, in the best way. It knows what it is and what it wants to do, and it does those things and nothing more. If this sounds vague that's because it has to be. Don't even read the synopsis, just give yourself an hour or two and read it.
Ernest Junius
A neat little novella that's well-structured. It has predictable plot, but however still an enjoyable read. What I find lacking is in its list of characters, it's narrow and a little bit too few. Everything revolves around the protagonist and his friend, the others are practically ghosts. I'm not sure the author had considered to explore options that can go with the plot. There are loopholes that are unanswered, leaving me dissatisfied, somehow. It falls in the grey area. Not sure whether I shou ...more
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a quick read. I was able to finish it in between studying for finals over a two day period (in one sitting you could likely finish it in 1-4hrs, depending on how fast you read). This provided an easy sense of accomplishment, which for me is nice since I tend to read several books at once and often take forever to finish one of them. However, apart from a few good observations, I found the story rather boring.

Overall, if you want a quick and light read, it's not a bad choice but I would
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I read this in 1997 and reread it today while sitting at Commonwealth sipping beers and eating food on my final Monday off of my Autumn. I ran and took out and transplanted the mum hedge. I had forgotten the book but remembered the scenery was by the sea. The narrator tells the double story of his writer friend who acquires a demonic manuscript from a world renowned author whose notariety is owed to the MS. The narrator acquires it at the end and is looking to pass it on. Eudoxeia is the devil w ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just about the only interesting aspect of this slim story is the author's new afterword which reveals that the Tyrrel character is, up to a point, based on Graham Greene. That's rather apt and gets the tale one extra star. As for the rest, it's dismally constructed (the narrator has to insert clarifications on the lines of 'don't forget you know this but I didn't at the time'), and Judd seems not to have a clue how to handle the ghostly/demonic/otherworldly elements convincingly or interestingly ...more
Suncan Stone
Not a book that would trully grab me... I found the style a bit dry, and the story itself was nothing to write home about... But then it could be just me, after all it did win the Guardian fiction prize... So, for now I will go with it just doesn't do it for me - but as it is a very short novel, read it and let me know whether you agree or disagree with me (and why)...
Andrew McClarnon
A re-read from 20 years ago - nice and short (I do like novellas) - but not really sure why this was written. Its not atmospheric, strange for a ghost story, its not - to me - comprehensible as a criticism of modern literature, and as a story it has a strange mangled timeline and only limited characterisation. On the plus side, some nice 'place' writing (Antibes, Cap Ferrat).
Sean O'Hara
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, faust
This is one of those British horror novels where nothing happens, but it doesn't happen in a way that's very creepy -- assuming you can trust the narrator and the nothing isn't, in fact, quite mundane with the creepiness being nothing but his deranged projections.
Mar 07, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Stephen King recommended. He says: “More chills in its little length than in a whole shelf of bestsellers.” Cover blurb: “The best book I've read all year . . . wonderful.”

Introduction by his son, Owen King.
Richard Mulholland
Well written, but damn it was confusing.
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up as a Halloween read. Interesting premise, easy read, but not one I'd recommend widely.
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