I found White Devil captivating from the outset. The author has certainly chosen the perfect setting for a ghost story in the Lot, a house at Harrow school accommodating students. The house itself is quite old, but at its heart is a much older dwelling which would have been in use at the time of Lord Byron, whom the story is crafted around. I was a little apprehensive about this, as it is very easy to slander the dead, but the author has kept his tale true to the known facts about Byron who was, in any case, famously described as `mad, bad and dangerous to know'.
The story develops at a very gentle pace, but when the writing is good that really does not matter. The whole account is very atmospheric and this was one of those books which I found myself taking the time to read word for word as I was enjoying it so much. The supernatural elements are certainly eerie, but from the outset there is a hint of menace and the impression that this is far from a benign spirit. The plot is well thought out and I did not find it predictable so there is always the feeling that there is something unexpected and somewhat threatening just around the corner which keeps you turning the pages.
The story begins with Andrew Taylor arriving at Harrow to join the sixth form. Andrew is an American and has come to Harrow as a last resort after getting himself in trouble in the educational establishment he had attended in the States. Initially he is like a fish out of water but is soon persuaded to be part of a play based on the life of Byron which his housemaster, Fawkes, is writing. Andrew bears an uncanny resemblance to Byron and when he starts playing the part of Byron, the supernatural elements really start creeping in.
I thoroughly enjoyed this gothic tale which is extremely well crafted. I think the author hits just the right balance between keeping the story moving and creating the atmosphere needed to make a successful ghost story with plenty of suspense.