Readers’ Advisory 1: The Damned. Andrew Pyper

Quick Facts

Author: Andrew Pyper

Published 2015 Simon & Schuster

288pp. 9781476755113. $25US, $29.99CAN

Suspense, Thriller, Horror

Available in print and eBook

Why I Read It

Yet another find on the processing cart at my job. I have the best job in the world, seriously. Being a librarian has really allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, genre wise. The cover art is what hooked me, at first. It’s simple, yet provocative. I didn’t even notice the girl’s head until I’d read the flap. I knew it would be a creepy read, but I’m just a bit of a sucker for ghost stories. I don’t read them often, and I cannot stand scary movies, but I am intrigued by them. I mean, my imagination can be dark place. It’s nice knowing I’m not the only one.

TLL’s Tag

Death is a one-time, one-way phenomena. Or is it?

The Rundown

Danny Orchard is published author. What did he write? A book about the time he and his twin sister died in a fire on their sixteenth birthday. Danny came back. Ash didn’t. But twins know things about their twins. They are each other’s other half. Ash has haunted Danny since her death day, continuing in death the terror and fear she produced in life. A chance encounter at a support group tells Danny that he is not the only one to be haunted by a malevolent family spirit. He is fairly successful at keeping Ash at bay, until he falls in love with a widow and her son. Ash is not happy. In fact, she will do anything to ensure Danny is hers and only hers. Even reach out and touch them.

Here’s what I think

Pyper has won numerous awards in the Thriller genre for being a creeptastic master. The Damned is a good place to start for those wanting to see what he’s all about. It is haunting and lyrical. Pyper’s characterizations are clean and three-dimensional. In a book that is dark and full of dread, he has placed two bright spots in the characters of Willa and Eddie. The main characters of Danny and Ash are multilayered, though at times, Danny can be flat. Pyper never comes right out and names Ash’s condition, but his use of memories and descriptors for her lack of emotions are great illustrations. A beautiful example of showing rather than telling.

The Damned is a fairly quick read. I finished it in about a day, only during daylight hours. It is not a book that could or should be read at night. Pyper has just enough control over the characters to keep the reader on the edge, breathless, waiting for the Truly Bad Thing to happen. There is an interminable scene where Danny goes to his Underworld, Detroit, in order to confront Ash and put an end to her hauntings. I wonder if it could have been made shorter. Overall, though, a definite must read for fans of Pyper, thrillers, and horror stories about vengeful ghosts.

Final decision

Fabulous. Sustained creepy tone. Vivid characters. The long Underworld Detroit scene notwithstanding, it is a winner.

5Q–Hard to imagine it being better written.

5P–Every reader of this author wanted it yesterday.

Readalikes, courtesy of NoveList Plus


Michael Connelly

Charlotte Grimshaw

Karen Osborn


Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman

The Unseen, Heather Graham

Snowblind, Christopher Golden

Appeal Factors

Fast-paced, engaging, creepy, suspenseful, strong sense of place

Book talk ideas

Ash Orchard p.11

The Icicle p.13

The Fire p.23

The After p.24-26

The birth scene p.36-37

The Under p.38-40

Willa and Eddie p.44

Book discussion questions

1) Ashleigh Orchard is a psychopath. What does that mean?

2) Who do you think Red Eyes is? Why do you suppose he answered Mrs. Orchard’s call instead of the other side?

3) Do you think Red Eye meant to take both Ash and Danny?

4) Ash can’t feel love. What, then, makes her so possessive of Danny?

5) If the After is one’s best day, what does your look like?

Clues to the Future

The Damned, Andrew Pyper, Afterlifers, Underworlders, Detroit, Woodward Avenue, Aflred Street, Danny Orchard, Ash Orchard, psychopaths, devil’s pact, murder

Awards and Lists

The Globe and Mail bestseller list

Links to the Author, Interviews, and Reviews

Author website:

Open Book Toronto Interview:

My Bookish Ways Interview:

USA Today Review:

The Globe and Mail Review:

Jenn’s Bookshelves Review:

Kirkus Review:


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