When the past haunts the present: Review of The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey

One of my reading goals for this year is to branch out from my usual reading habits and try some new-to-me books and authors.

devil mattinglyThe Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey fits that criteria, and though I was afraid I’d have to only read this book during the day or when my husband was home, it turns out I had nothing to fear. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my review.)

In the sleepy town of Mattingly, Virginia, where nothing much out of the ordinary happens, three of its residents go about their lives but are haunted by an event 20 years in the past. It was the day teenager Philip McBride died. His death was ruled a suicide but these three know the truth: he was killed. Jake Barnett carries shame for what happened that day and how he’ll never be the man anyone else wants him to be. His wife, Kate, spends her days logging good deeds done for the poor and unfortunate of Mattingly, hoping it will outweigh the guilt she feels for her part in Philip’s death. And Taylor Hathcock, a mountain recluse, believes in his madness the time has come to make it all right.

Plagued by dreams and visions and events that don’t make sense, the three are drawn together to reveal the truth that will surprise them all.

And I can’t say anymore because I’ll give too much away!

What I can say is that Coffey’s writing is some of the best I’ve ever read. He creates deep character points-of-view using a blend of first- and third-person. It was like seeing inside their minds. And he crafts some of the most beautiful sentences I’ve had the pleasure of reading. He brings to the page the unique pace and wording of the Virginia dialect–philosophical, observational, straightforward, and down-to-earth. It can’t be easy to create such believable prose. It was not limited to dialogue. The whole book was full of these gently rolling sentences full of truth.

Consider these words from the opening page:

I come to this place of darkness because it is where the light of heaven once touched. I come here for the ones who were saved on a night long ago and for the ones lost. I come because heaven is not without the past.

Even as I re-read the first pages, which are titled “The End,” I noticed clues to the story I hadn’t picked up on at first. The Devil Walks in Mattingly is layered, and I think reading it through once won’t be enough.

While I was waiting for the book to arrive, I visited Billy Coffey’s website to get a feel for this new-to-me author. Check it out. He had me at “hello,” basically, with his talk of front porches and hospitality. I’m planning another trip to Mattingly in the near future. (A note in the book said that all his novels take place in Mattingly.)

Will this book give you nightmares? No. Will it make you uncomfortable at times? Yes. Will it leave you with hope? Definitely.

Intrigued? Find out more about the book, the author and what other readers think here.

And don’t miss your chance to win a prize to celebrate the book’s release!

Billy Coffey is celebrating his new book, The Devil Walks in Mattingly, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway.


One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 5th. Winner will be announced April  7th on Billy’s blog. Watch Billy give the backstory of the book here.


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Billy’s blog on April 7th to see if you won.


One thought on “When the past haunts the present: Review of The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey

  1. Pingback: Like listening to a ghost story around a campfire: Review of In the Heart of the Dark Wood by Billy Coffey | Living Echoes

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