As we approach the 80th anniversary of the book publication of TDRO (12 December 1934) how appropriate to bookend this site’s reviewer-in-resident, Steve Patton’s view of our favourite occult masterpiece with a review by our hero’s great granddaughter, Charlotte Wheatley.
I‘m sure she won’t mind me reproducing her review from her own website for such a significant milestone ( www.charlottewheatley.com
– the intuition online option).
"The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley"
"As you may have guessed, this particular author happens to be a relation of mine - namely my great grandfather. It is for this reason among others I that I have chosen to review one of his many best-selling books based on the subject of Black Magic. Having read this book alone, I can confirm that it is enough to convince all of you sceptics out there that Black Magic is for real. Now, this isn’t normally my ‘kind of topic’ but I now have it down on my list as one of the most exciting and intriguing subjects I have read about to date. It is a must-read in terms of history, drama and literary expertise. I am not biased in my statements!
The Devil Rides Out is a 1934 novel that tells a disturbing yet exciting tale about the capabilities of black magic and the occult; the gripping and eye-opening journey will have you hooked from start to finish. Through the main four characters that are also featured in many more of Wheatley’s novels, the reader is ushered along a dramatic detection story that is thrilling and stimulating to the core. Alongside this, Wheatley takes the chance to educate the reader through true historical facts, each assisting in the gradual conversion of the every day modern sceptic.
Now I feel it necessary to quickly introduce you to Dennis Wheatley himself.
As older generations will tell you, Wheatley was one of the world’s best-selling authors from the 1930’s through to the 1960’s. He is best known for his stylish and original thrillers, but has also written books of a different nature including the famous ‘Deception Planners’ and books on the French Revolution. Wheatley himself testifies to the powers of evil and Black Magic- but aptly makes clear at the start of each novel that he has never, and will never delve into such activities: ‘Author’s Note’
“I desire to state that I, personally, have never assisted at, or participated in, any ceremony connected with Magic- Black or White.”
Furthermore Wheatley makes it utterly clear that historical accounts in the novel are correct and much of his information about rites and magic ceremonies are acquired from genuine practitioners of the Art. The author’s note also states:
“…I found ample evidence that Black Magic is still practiced in London, and other cities, at the present day”. He finally urges his writers to refrain from any contact with the Art, for it carries a most potent and harmful danger to any that choose to involve themselves in it.
Having read this initial blurb, I felt instantly drawn in and inquisitive. My thoughts on Black Magic previous to this encounter were limited, and in its limitations centred on rendering it primitive, medieval, or merely a story for the peasant class, the ignorant. We all know there are no such things as witches…right? Think again.
In my insistence that you should not hesitate to read this novel, I shall attempt at not giving this story away. In doing this, there is really little to tell, apart from the fact that wound up in this fast paced, hair-raising thriller, there are also scenes of romance, loyalty and humour. The main characters consist of Duke de Richleau, (affectionately known as ‘Greyeyes’) an old and experienced French exile, with a surprising amount of knowledge about the powers of darkness. His great friend Rex Van Ryn is a tall and handsome American, and Simon Aron a quiet but thoughtful individual. These contrasting and unlikely friends all met whilst being hunted down in ‘The Forbidden Territory’, and they share a special bond, a bond that they would seek to secure in spite of anything, even in the face of the most fatal potentialities. Richard Eaton, Marie Lou and little Fleur are also in on the sequence. Mocata is a bald-headed, ‘white slug’ of a man, who is at the centre of all the unspeakable powers of evil that take place in the story. It seems it is impossible to defeat him for his powers seem limitless. But we are reminded that nothing should be deemed impossible on the grounds of passion, loyalty and pure goodness.
The short chapters and frequent scene changes make the novel impossible to put down, as one gets irresistibly drawn in to the narrative and increasingly fond of the characters. The countless events that spiral in every direction leave one as exhausted as the characters appear to be in the story. After finishing this book in record timing, I almost forgot which country I was in.
So go on- snuggle up, light a candle and indulge your mind in one of the oldest Arts mankind has to offer…Black Magic."
Get the champagne on ice for the 12th December.