Amanda is pregnant and afraid. She'd planned to run away rather than face her parents and tell them the truth. After all, to lay with a man out of wedlock is a sin. There's at least some chance her father may well turn her out after learning what she's done.
But before she's forced to face it, Amanda's father decides it's time for the family to move. The coming winter is to be a hard one and he doesn't think they can weather another like the last in their current settlement. He's heard there's a place in the valley with free land and abandoned cabins that can be claimed and has decided this is where they'll go.
When they arrive, the indeed find a cabin that suits their needs perfectly. But before they can move in they discover something awful has left its stain - literally. Amanda's father is determined, though, and believes all the cabin needs is a good cleaning and a new floor.
Amanda knows different. Because Amanda knows all about evil and sin.
Cat Winters blurbed this by one saying, "Imagine Stephen King writing Little House on the Prairie." It's a pretty astute comparison, readers. Daughters Unto Devils is creepy! And considering it's set during pioneer times, by default it fits my own rural/folk horror obsession of late (it's a thing, it should be a BIGGER thing).
The difficulties faced by early pioneers are known. Heck, the beginning of the book reads a bit like playing The Oregon Trail, with the reader just waiting for someone to come down with dysentery or something! The hardships Amanda and her family have already suffered are bad enough, which is why her father brings them off the mountain in the first place.
Unfortunately there is no solace to be found on the prairie.
As if Amanda didn't have enough to be worried about, she hints at an incident that occurred the previous winter that's left everyone on edge around her. Without knowing what it is, the reader is left to wonder if maybe she's gone off the deep end or is communing with evil spirits - or anything in between for that matter.
And yeah, a cabin drenched in blood! Holy freaking crap! I would not be sleeping there.
I thought Daughters Unto Devils was brilliant and awesome. It does have a slower pace and a more gradual build, but by the time you get to the end it's like a great big slap in the face full of scary!
Given that Amy Lukavics has the same reading background I do, I definitely hoped her debut would be good - that she'd be a writer after my own dark reading heart. She far, far exceeded my expectations, y'all! I can't wait to see what she'll do for her second book.