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Summary

In 1995, 12-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the 'Demonic Duo' who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity. 

Online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark and fanciful stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act. But soon King himself becomes a target, with secrets from his own past dredged up and threats escalating to a terrifying level. It becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun....

©2022 Matt Wesolowski (P)2022 Isis Audio

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Supernatural folk horror meets true human evil

Matt Wesolowski’s latest book ‘Demon’ dropped on Audible yesterday and I wound up devouring it. Like the rest of his Six Stories series, it is a fictional work of a true crime podcast – Six Stories which has 6 narrators impacted by the crime tell their stories. His hallmark is twofold- first that his setting is squarely in the British psyche, society, criminal history and geography- these are the murders, scandals and missing children that resonate down through the decades in our national consciousness. Secondly, he walks the finest of lines between true crime and supernatural horror- each story could have a mundane explanation, or more temptingly there could be a supernatural reason rooted in folk lore or urban legend.

Demon tackles one of the most harrowing crimes- an examination of a pair of twelve year old boys who brutally kill a vulnerable child in the North Yorkshire Moors. While every single detail is significantly different, the mere concept still raises the spectre of the harrowing James Bulger murder in Merseyside and frankly I was worried how such a story could be addressed with any sensitivity? The reason I’m writing this review, and I feel that I can recommend it, is that it is treated right- questions about the culpability of children, and whether they should be punished forever for an unforgivable act, of if they should be rehabilitated are raised and examined but not definitively answered- it lets the reader/listener make up their own mind about it.

More than in most of his books, the nature of evil is examined. Where the children born evil? Was it a product of hard upbringing’s and trauma. Was it a demonic possession, or where they just haunted by loss and tragedy? Where they abandoned by society and could others have contributed to the tragedy? Modern elements such as Daily Mail-style media outrage, and the ethics of granting child murderers anonymity combine with insular local villages distrusting non-conformists and legends of witches haunting the moors. And naturally there is a twist- which he lays the groundwork for, but which I didn’t see coming.

You can read this book, but given it’s format as a fictional podcast, I feel it has a better voice when you listen to the audiobook narrated by 7 voice actors- then it’s a taut, fascinating podcast that lacks most of the annoying tropes of true crime podcasts but all their strengths. I give it a harrowing and thoughtful 9/10

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Another Outstanding Story

Listened to this in the course of a day. As well written and thought provoking as all the previous Six Stories. The format is brilliant, and lends itself to the Audible platform perfectly. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a complex story and clever writing. Also, praise as well for the cast, the narration was excellent.