March 26, 2024


By Jennifer Thorne
Diavola is a ferocious, maximalist horror ride, an impressive display of Jennifer Thorne’s skill at crafting unsettling and disorienting scenes of terror.
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Jennifer Thorne’s Diavola is an exercise in delicious twists and masterful suspense, told in the smart, snarky voice of Anna Pace, a jaded Manhattanite on a vacation quite literally from hell.

Anna’s swanky upcoming family trip certainly doesn’t seem monstrous on the outside. A marketing artist by trade and a painter by passion, she’s thrilled at the prospect of renting a Tuscan villa in the picturesque Italian countryside. The problem is her family. Thorne immediately places readers in Anna’s anxious thoughts, and her dread at having to see her parents and siblings, let alone take an entire trip with them, seeps into your bones before any of the other characters even arrive on the page. From a never-ending cycle of guilt trips to spiteful gaslighting, the tension between the Pace siblings and their alternatively aloof and agitated parents is so palpable that you wonder why they torture themselves every year. It’s soon clear that their stay at Villa Taccola might be the last straw.

As ugly stories and past grudges are revealed and Italian wine flows freely, the vengeful spirits of the villa decide it’s time to feast, and events quickly spiral out of control. Thorne pays homage to a cornucopia of mythology, sprinkling in some art and architecture history for good measure, as the Paces struggle to make it through each night. Diavola is a ferocious, maximalist horror ride, an impressive display of Thorne’s skill at crafting unsettling and disorienting scenes. There’s a rottenness lurking within the Pace family—Anna included—but it’s hard not to sympathize with them as they battle night terrors, horrifying visions and spirit possession. After all, whose family is perfect?

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By Jennifer Thorne
Tor Nightfire
ISBN 9781250826121

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