‘Daughters Unto Devils’ Reading Guide + Q&A with author, Amy Lukavics: “In horror, anything is possible”

‘Daughters Unto Devils’ should come with a strict “NO READING AFTER DARK” sticker, unless you don’t want to sleep that night. Because, trust us, this book is creepy as frick.

Daughters Unto Devils

Here at MP!, we’ve been finding out all about author Amy Lukavics and her love of terrifying innocent readers, which we can’t help but feel she enjoys just a little too much.On top of that, we’ve got a reading guide straight from the publishers for you to use with all your bookish buds! May the book rants begin.

Questions for the Author

The scenery of the story and the landscape is very subtly woven into the story, was this something that you did consciously or did the story of Amanda Verner just fit this, often eerie, backdrop? 

I think it was a little bit of both. One of the first characteristics about the story that I came up with was the fact that it’d take place on a prairie sometime in the 1800s. The potential for things to fester in isolation there was so great that it interwove with Amanda’s story almost naturally.

There is an element of biblical imagery in the book, particularly in the title, how important was this kind of symbolism? 

It was important in the sense that to Amanda, her teachings implied that failure to comply would result in her soul becoming damned, without a chance for salvation. Her mind often went to places that she believed to be unforgivable, and that fear of losing the possibility of salvation drove her every decision for most of the book.

One particular scene features lots of blood! As such a classic horror tool, did you have a feeling of wanting to restrain the use of blood as a scare tactic, to ensure the greatest impact for the reader?

My biggest rule when it comes to blood/gore is that I will only do it if it feels right (in other words, I try to avoid using it unnecessarily.) That being said, when the time is right, it sure is right…and I don’t hold back or restrain one bit!

And how important was it to you to ‘scare’ the reader? Or was this just a result of the telling of a very haunting story?

It was very important for me to scare the reader, but in a way that was as organic as possible. As I wrote the book, I wouldn’t allow myself to shy away from the more gruesome details of the situation, but nor would I try to linger on them for longer than what was necessary. Just enough focus on the right aspects and details of the story created a wonderful tension that I could build and build until it was time to release the hounds of the climax.

The novel features a strong relationship between Amanda and her sister – is this inspired by your own experiences? Or were there other fictional sisters that you based this relationship on?

I don’t have any sisters by blood, but I’m lucky enough to have a few women in my life who might as well be. Unconditional love isn’t always pretty, but it is strong enough to get us through even the ugliest moments of life, and I’m forever grateful to my sisters in spirit who offer their friendships to me. While Amanda and Emily weren’t based on anybody in particular, if I did have a sister by blood, I sure hope she’d love me as much as Emily loves Amanda (and vice versa.)

What draws you to the Horror genre? What does it offer a writer?

Darkness and morbid curiosity have intrigued me since I was a child. It was like these stories were able to offer me different sorts of truths that other (non-horror) fiction often shied away from. If there’s something children and teens appreciate in their stories, it’s honesty. Horror allows us to be honest (sometimes brutally so,) as well as unapologetic regarding those hard truths. Writing-wise, it allows me to have so much fun. In horror, anything is possible, and there’s no such thing as too far.

What’s the scariest story you’ve ever heard? True or fictional!

Hands down, the scariest story I’ve ever heard is a true one. It’s the story of Albert Fish, and if you don’t know his story/haven’t read the letter he wrote to the parents of a girl he abducted and killed, consider yourself lucky. As horror writers, I feel like we often challenge ourselves to somehow create something that’s scarier than reality, but in my opinion, humans are the scariest monsters there could ever be.

Reading Group Questions

  1. How do you feel the setting and scenery affects the characters and storyline?
  2. In the beginning of the book it is clear Amanda believes her family’s loyalty is to God and religion over family relationships. In light of this do you agree with her decision to keep the baby (and later her frightening experiences) a secret? Even from her sister/best friend?
  3. What do you think was the reasoning behind the decision to place Amanda’s story in such a religious setting? Does this impact the themes/characters in the progression of the story? How?
  4. What do you think are the central ways in which the author builds tension throughout the book? How do you feel about the way she conceals the events of ‘last winter’ for so long?
  5. Were there any parts of the book that you found difficult/too frightening to read? Which passages had a particular impact on you?
  6. Would you recommend this novel to a friend?

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Written by Laura Fulton

Book Channel Editor at MaxPop! Have a thing for the sea and pretty paperbacks. Saved by amazing grace.

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