The Devil’s Dance

John Symons

ISBN: 9780856835018 - Paperback

Dimensions: 102pp - 197 x 130mm - 26 b & w line drawings

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“John Symons has done it again. This is a complex and deeply rewarding work. But don’t let that put you off! I loved the menace of the book and its tranquil resolution. I think it is a really great book. Like A Tear in the Curtain, it is about children, could be enjoyed by older children and is an absorbing read for adults. It also raises several important issues.”
William Wood,

“Throughout, there is an uneasy feel of sinister undercurrents which increasingly intrigue and lead the reader ever onwards. Cleverly put together; dream sequences develop together with scenes of nervous exploratory action amidst the suspicion of dark deeds to come. A very original book whose story sticks in the memory.” Reader review on Read reviews here.


The Devil’s Dance transcends categories. It is an exciting, original story, full of menace and very moving. The story is told in turn by two teenagers, Jake and Samuel. It begins with a dream, like a musical overture, which contains the themes to be developed in the rest of the work and describes events that took place two or three hundred years earlier. Gradually the reader understands the horror of what is happening. Jake and Samuel’s story unrolls over Hallowe’en, with eerie and, finally, shocking events.

The book describes movingly the love of Jake and his mother for his father, who is afflicted by a terrible illness, and their heart-searing loss when he dies. When Jake understands that he may himself inherit the illness and indeed pass it on to his children he struggles to come to terms with the appalling fact. The reader shares the boy’s turmoil.

The story has several strands: Jake’s personal loss; his friendship with Samuel and his loving family; and the mystery of the nocturnal rituals that take place in a deserted hospital on the edge of Dartmoor. Between the episodes of adventure in this well paced story, there are peaceful and pastoral descriptions, particularly of Samuel’s home and special family occasions. The boys’ nocturnal walks together and alone are also full of atmosphere. The climax of the story is menacing and cruel, and its immediate aftermath no less shocking.

The book is charmingly illustrated with line drawings by Tracy Davy.

Author Details:

John Symons spent the first two years of his life in India and the next sixteen in Cornwall and Devonshire. He was educated at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London. He is a historian, linguist and life coach and the author of four books published by Shepheard-Walwyn.
Listen to John Symons talking about The Devil’s Dance in this blog post and in this podcast.
Visit John Symons’ website.

Keywords: Fiction, Huntington’s Disease, Devon

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