Cover Image: The Devil Makes Three

The Devil Makes Three

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Member Reviews

This one drew me in right from the start. I loved the gradual development of Tess and Eliot’s relationship. It felt more genuine and believable as their feelings for each other grew. The creepy and suspenseful imagery of the devil’s hauntings created the perfect eerie ambiance. The dark academia aspect of the novel is more imagery and less practice, but the devil itself was an interesting character and altogether I really just enjoyed the read. The only things taking away from a 5 star were the slow paced start and what felt more like a college setting rather than high school. If you love dark academia settings, creepy/spooky vibes, and a bit of romance, then this is the book for you.
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The Devil Makes Three is one of the most engaging thrillers I have ever read.  The story perfectly blends dark magic with an academic setting, creating the ideal atmosphere for a haunting tale!  I have been disappointed by many young adult thrillers in the past, and after reading The Devil Makes Three, I now know why.  Those other lackluster thrillers couldn’t compare to the excitement, and fear that was packed into every page of The Devil Makes Three.  This book would be the perfect read for fans of If We Were Villains or The Dead Poets Society!
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The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino sounds like the perfect blend of horror and dark academia. A devil unleashed in the stacks of a library -- sign me up! Unfortunately, I did not finish (DNF) this novel. I made it about forty percent of the way through before setting it down for the final time. While the writing was well done, and the characters were interesting and well developed, I really struggled with the pacing and the overall atmosphere of the book. The pacing was too slow, not a lot happens in the first thirty-to-forty percent of the book, and when the devil does finally arrive, it wasn't as dark or as ominous as I was hoping it would be. I do think this book would be a good choice for other readers who are interested in dark academia, unfortunately it just didn't quite work me. 

Thank you to Page Street Publishing and NetGalley for the advanced eARC!
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Enjoyment: 3/5
Execution: 3/5
Final: 3/5

Two teens accidentally unleash the devil after stumbling upon a forbidden grimoire in a haunted library. 

While the writing was very easy to read, it felt stilted and it took a while for the pacing to pick up. I had a hard time getting into the story and engaging with it. However, it is spooky, creepy, and contains one of the most fascinating magic systems, and I really enjoyed reading the ink scenes.

The main characters Tess and Elliot are nuanced and interesting, and I liked the secondary characters as well, especially Anna, who is a ray of sunshine, and Lucille. I would have loved more interactions between them all, especially as a group. While I wasn't a fan of the romance between the two MCs because I wanted more development, I thought they worked well together, and some of the moments between them are very tender. 

I think that fans of YA horror will enjoy this book, especially given the start of the spooky season!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC through Turn the Page tours. 

Content warnings (may contain spoilers, may be incomplete):
Gore, body horror, knives/stabbing, non consensual self harm, murder, death of secondary characters, corpses, parental abuse and neglect, parent with terminal illness (brain cancer), off screen parental death, minor relationship between professor and student, infidelity
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DNF

The plot, premise, basic starting of the book had a lot of mixed vibes, it was horror I guess? I was also getting romance vibes. It was a very confusing book. It was a very cliched story, I did not find any originality. The pacing was extremely slow. The characters were irritating. I did not like this at all
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TW: self-harm, blood, decaying bodies, demonic possession, death 

I'm really proud of myself for choosing to read this book because it's definitely darker than what I usually read. I'm trying to introduce some experimentation into my reading routine so I can see how other genres are developing, and the description for The Devil Makes Three sounded intriguing without being completely out of my comfort zone. 

I wanted to be as honest as possible with the trigger warnings I included above. While I wasn't too bothered by those elements, I think some of those scenes could be too intense for some readers. Personally, I enjoyed the creepiness, especially how books and ink were used. I'm not sure if this book fully fits into the horror genre, but I enjoyed it way more than the few horror novels I have read. 

This did have a slow start, and I would say that I wasn't quite invested until maybe 1/3 of the way in. After that point though, the pacing became tighter, and I was much more interested in seeing what would happen next.
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This book wasn't for me. The Devil Makes Three follows Tess and Eliot in a spooky library as they accidentally release a devil/demon and have to figure out how to solve their problem. I think the writing itself was good but the story was kind of boring to me, personally. It was super gory but that didn't bother me, I just never really cared about the two main characters or what was happening with them. It was very disappointing because the premise of this book sounded so promising to me when I first heard of this book but it didn't work out for me unfortunately. Plus I felt like the romance built up too intense too quickly, especially with them barely communicating for most of the start and trying to avoid each other for most of the book. Tess in particular would spend pages thinking in her head how she knows she was in the wrong for something she did and that she should respond to whatever Eliot had said to her, only for her to then not actually say anything to him. Then the two would just end up standing in awkward silence which is something I always find super annoying to read because it gives me second hand embarrassment. I don't know what exactly it was but I just didn't enjoy reading this book and I'm very sad about it because I really wanted to love it.
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This was a dark academia with a very interesting premise that had my intrigued enough but not entirely invested. Tess and Elliot's relationship is what kept me going for the most part! I loved the use of the ink and it tied everything together in a creative way.
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At first, I wasn’t sure what this book was about. It was a long introduction to the characters and setting up the book. The plot didn’t even start to almost halfway through, when they finally went down and found the demonic book. Once we actually get into the plot of the book, it takes its sweet time building up. Honestly, it wasn’t until the last 100-150 pages that there was serious action and momentum in the book.

This book isn’t a fast paced fantasy. This isn’t one that’s going to scoop you up and thrust you into an adventure. This is a slow, methodical book that drifts you through like a lazy river, until it throws you off a waterfall that you weren’t even sure was coming.

I liked this book. Sometimes I like slow paced books that take their time to build up. The curiosity and anticipation makes the action and the reveals that much better. I will say though, the ending to this book, the very last line, sent my rating over the edge. Throughout, I was sitting around 3 – 3.5 stars. It was a good book, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t have that gusto that I usually like in a paranormal, fantasy thriller. Until the ending.

No spoilers, but even I didn’t see that coming and I’m curious to know – what happens next?

While the ending was fantastic, the beginning was a bit rough. Both Tess and Eliot aren’t likeable characters, in their own ways. Tess is, to put it bluntly, annoying to read in the beginning. Her only focus in life is to play the cello and keep her sister in the prestigious school she gave up her dream to help her get into. And that’s all to her personality. Cello and her sister. Eliot, on the other hand, is a bit stuck up at first. He doesn’t want to be in America, he wants to stay with his mom, and while we find out it’s because she’s dying from a brain tumor, at first he just sounds like a jerk!

It wasn’t until the story started really progressing, and we kept finding out more about these characters, that they started becoming likeable. But at first, I was not into the two POVs and was just curious about the book plot line and what was going to happen.

Basically, if you don’t like it in the beginning, keep going, give it a real chance, and you might end up loving it!

Overall, this book was good and the ending is what made it great. Tess and Eliot slowly grow on you as characters, especially Eliot, and the terrifying images from this book were hard to stomach at times. It gets a bit gruesome. Like, I scared my cat gasping and “ew”-ing at one point because there are some nasty scenes. But, if you like paranormal thriller/horror books – then this one is a great read and I hope there’s a book two!
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The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino 
4.5 stars 🌟 
For me this book was equal amount of plot and dark academia aes , this is book is LITERALLY the definition of dark academia, I can say this as someone whose feed is dark academia and can read anything dark academia. The 90% of the book revolved around the library (mentioned in the synopsis) which was tbh the best part. 
Lets start with plot - the plot was good enough to keep me reading it and main characters who switched pov alternate chapters were really interesting and likeable ! The action scenes were written really nicely too ! I wasn't a big fan of the romance , it kinda felt flat in the book tho ! I definitely recommend you to read it!
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Tori Bovalino’s debut, The Devil Makes Three, is a character driven story. Although it has been a decade or so since I was a teenager, I still found Tess and Elliot, the two main characters in Bovalino’s book, to be very relatable. Burdened by their own life struggles, Tess and Elliot continuously battled feelings of failure and loneliness (let’s be real, we’ve all felt that way at time or another). However, through a series of chance encounters at Jessop, Falk’s infamous library, Tess and Elliot may just learn that when it comes to struggling with life’s problems, they not are as alone as they originally thought. 

If you like character-driven stories with a dash of horror and dark academia, then you may want to add The Devil Makes Three to your TBR. The horror elements are not too spooky. There are some gory scenes, but the descriptions are not too graphic. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Page Street YA for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own.
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Disclaimer: I received this arc and e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Devil Makes Three

Author: Tori Bovalino

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For...: young adult readers, fantasy, paranormal, thriller, mystery, demons, possession

Publication Date: August 10, 2021

Genre: YA Paranormal

Recommended Age: 16+ (child abuse, self harm TW, gore, violence, romance, possession)

Explanation of CWs: Child abuse, in both emotional and physical manners, is shown. There is unintentional self harm by a character. Lots and lots of gore. Possession also happens in the book and the devil is a strong opponent.

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pages: 368

Synopsis: Tess Matheson only wants three things: time to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy, and for everyone else to leave her alone.

Instead, Tess finds herself working all summer at her boarding school library, shelving books and dealing with the intolerable patrons. The worst of them is Eliot Birch: snide, privileged, and constantly requesting forbidden grimoires. After a bargain with Eliot leads to the discovery of an ancient book in the library's grimoire collection, the pair accidentally unleash a book-bound demon.

The demon will stop at nothing to stay free, manipulating ink to threaten those Tess loves and dismantling Eliot’s strange magic. Tess is plagued by terrible dreams of the devil and haunting memories of a boy who wears Eliot's face. All she knows is to stay free, the demon needs her... and he'll have her, dead or alive.

Review: I really liked this book! It was so atmospheric and I loved how it set my Halloween tone for this year. The book was a lot gorey, please be aware, but it was so good. The book also had a lot of comic relief, which really made the book kind of perfect in a way. The book did well with the character development and the world building. The book was also so well plotted and well written.

The only downside I had with the book is that I felt like the story was a bit slow in places, but it was perfection otherwise.

Verdict: It was great! A must read for Halloween this year.
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Characters – 8/10
I’m going to be your typical adult here and wish the characters were older. I initially thought they were college-age, but turns out they’re seventeen and eighteen. The book reads like they’re supposed to be 20 and I think this could have been a good crossover book. We need more NA in fantasy (lookout for a post on this topic next week).

Other than their ages, I really enjoyed the characters. The Devil Makes Three follows two characters, Tess and Elliot. Both of them have distinct voices and they’re so fleshed out. I loved their individual backstories and their POVs. They both carry so much weight and they’re so strong and courageous. I love them.

Atmosphere – 10/10
Let me tell you, this book is creepy AF and I loved it. Bovalino did an excellent job with the atmosphere. It is a YA book, so it might not be on the creepy level of a King book, it still gave me the heebie-jeebies. Bovalino expertly uses some very cool imagery to scare us and I am here for it. She knows how to set a mood and I need her to write more creepy academia books stat.

Writing – 8/10
I liked the pacing of this book. It’s a bit slow in the beginning, but once it picks up it does not let you go. Overall Bovalino didn’t do a bad job, this book just lacked a certain spark for me. I wish I could combine it with Ninth House and Addie LaRue to make something that just blows me away. All three of these books were missing some depth for me.

Plot – 9/10
This book has a fantastic premise. Ink demons don’t sound scary, but you’d be wrong not to be terrified. The plot was missing some key scenes for me, and I do wish the book was about 100 pages longer. But I really enjoyed what we got.

Intrigue – 7/10
I think one of the elements I was missing in this book was a deeper connection between Tess and the demon. Or even Elliot and the demon. We do get some of the demon’s POV, but not enough to humanize him and make us root for him. I would have liked to dive deeper into his connection with Tess.

The “human” conflict in the story was also enjoyable. Elliot’s dad can go screw himself. One thing that I also really loved was that the teenagers actually go to an adult when they’re out of their depth. It’s a small detail, but one I really enjoyed. Adults don’t often play big parts in stories like these and it was refreshing to see.

Logic – 8/10
Another missing piece was a deeper dive into Elliot’s magic and some more demonology. I would have liked some Buffy-style research and a deep dive into the lore of the demon. Other than that, I’m happy with this book. The haunted library vibe is immaculate and I’m here for it.

Enjoyment – 8/10
Overall I really enjoyed this book. Enough that I might even reread it at some point to annotate my physical copy. The Devil Makes Three is creepy and an amazing story. I highly recommend it.
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The Devil Makes Three is not a book with a very compelling start. I thought the whole sticky note debacle was childish and didn’t fit in with the rest of the book. I know the author had to find some way to get the characters to meet and start off on the wrong foot but I found it laughable.

By the 30% mark the book really found its stride and I just couldn’t stop reading. The dual POV in this book is fantastic. Both characters feel completely different and you’ll know who’s chapter you’re reading instantly. I love Tess and Eliot s characters and seeing them develop throughout the book was delightful.

I’m not usually one for horror but I loved the plot of this story. The scary and gory details of the plot did freak me out but I was too intrigued to stop reading. Incorporating ink in the horror aspects of the plot was ingenious. I was grossed out and fascinated at the same time. The writing was really easy to read and I flew through the latter half of the book. By the end I wanted more. I’m a bit disappointed that this is a standalone because I love the world and the characters so much.

I do think, however, that this book lacked atmosphere and aesthetic. I can understand why the author set this book during the summer break but the warm, sunny weather just didn’t match with the creepy vibes of the library. Setting this book during autumn or winter would have been so much better. I also feel like the book lacked descriptions at times. I struggled to envision the scenes before me and I do think the book would have benefitted from more flowery writing.

Overall, I had a blast reading this book and I can see myself rereading it next year. I loved Eliot and Tess and I kind of wish we could get more of their story. If a scaredy cat like me can read this, then anyone can. This is a book I will definitely recommend regularly.
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The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino is the perfect blend of dark academia and horror. This outstanding, atmospheric read had me hooked from the first line. With beautifully dynamic characters, slow-burn romance, and a well depicted horror, this is a book that will keep you up well into the night.

Both the main characters, Tess and Eliot, were so well written and easily loveable. Both struggle with different family issues and both struggle with their feelings. Tess is a cellist who had to put her future on hold to make sure her younger sister had one. Eliot is a powerful witch that is looking for a cure to save his mother. Both these characters are struggling with so many emotions. And this is before (and of course during) releasing an all powerful and hungry book demon. A demon that is set on destroying Tess’s life and hurting those closest to her so he can stay in the real world.

What I loved about Tess and Eliot (besides their adorable and hilarious banter) was how they put their feelings aside to come together and try to destroy the devil. Their romance blossomed from their first encounter, but it wasn’t insta-love. Bovalino spent time developing their chemistry and romance and made sure it didn’t take away from the main plot of the story, which I thoroughly enjoyed. What I also loved is how Bovalino depicted the devil. As the devil is after Tess, she was second-guessing everything. Second-guessing whether specific encounters happened, if everything was just in her head, and if the devil’s promises were really worth everything. The fear and uncertainty was so palpable, so intense that it almost felt like I was the one in Tess’s shoes.

Bovalino’s writing is suberb and beyond atmospheric. Her debut is one that is well written but creates the vibes I’m always looking for in a horror book: spider-crawling chills and suspense that keeps you on edge. I loved The Devil Makes Three from start to finish. The world building, foreboding scenes, a devil that bleeds ink…just everything about this book was phenomenal. And with that ending (THAT ENDING!), if you’re like me, you will be screaming and pulling your hair wondering WHY. That ending really brought the book full circle, but in a surprising way. And you can bet I will be buying anything Tori Bovalino writes.

The Devil Makes Three is a book I absolutely recommend. Even if you’re an avid horror book reader or new to this genre, The Devil Makes Three is one that everyone will enjoy. Tori Bovalino’s debut is in the world today, so pick up your copy now!

5 reasons to read The Devil Makes Three:
A beautifully unique and atmospheric story
A Brit with a swoon-worthy accent and did I mention he’s a witch?
A book-bound demon that is released from its grimoire and is, yep you guessed it, HOT.
Writing that will leave your spine tingling and chills that leave you checking every corner of your house.
Emotionally captivating characters, with Tess and Eliot having some fun enemies-to-lovers banter.
Did I mention there’s a book-bound demon that bleeds ink and is depicted as HOT?
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Atmospheric dark academia with demons, witches, and gore!? Heck yeah, sign me up!

This book gave me the creep and delivered gore that I can still handle. No worries it's not in a slasher genre kind of level, but still makes me squeamish yet I like it! There's a scene that gives me chills (stop right here, spoiler ahead) when the 'supposed to be dead and decayed' friend of the MC follows her home (while FLOATING!) and then banging on her dorm room. If that happened to me, I'd die I tell you!

Even though the first third was slow but I still enjoyed it! Especially because both of the MCs are dealing with family issues and they're slowly connecting to each other. I know you like slow burn enemies to lovers!

It may not scare advanced horror readers, but if you're new to the genre and want to dive into a creepy spooky book, I recommend this one!

Trigger warnings: Self-harm, child abuse, parental illness, cheating parent, blood/gore, possession leading to degradation of mental state

PS: pardon my grammar.....

Thanks to NetGalley and Page Street Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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4.5

All Tess Matheson wants is to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy and for everyone else to leave her alone. Instead, she finds herself working at her boarding school library where, along with the snide, privileged Eliot Birch, she accidentally unleashes a book-bound demon. Now the devil wears Eliot's face and haunts Tess' dreams. For the devil to stay free he needs Tess, and he'll have her dead or alive.

I loved the creepy atmosphere of this book, I got chills during Tess' dreams and scenes with the devil. It was written amazingly well!

The slow burn relationship between Tess and Elliot was very well developed and I love them as a couple! They were well developed as characters as well and I ended up caring a lot about them.

The plot was so unique and I was completely invested throughout, combined with the points above it made for an incredible dark academia book!
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When Tess begins her scholarship working at the boarding school library, the last thing she wants to do is fetch books for privileged and snobby Eliot Birch. When they find an ancient book and release a demon, they may have to work together.

If you like dark academia that isn’t doesn’t read necessarily as a young adult book, this is it! The language is mature and deep. The characters have in-depth background and their relationship together is very progressive and feels real. There were some minor gripes about the history of the magic that I didn’t fit entirely, but overall it was a good and creepy read. The beginning was a bit slow but once the horror begins, it picks up.

“It was the terror of the unknown, of the unknowable, and the realization that maybe there actually was something there in the dark.”

The Devil Makes Three comes out 8/10.
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This was such a creepy, fun read. It is very slow moving in my opinion and took me a while to actually get into the book, but it was so worth it! I loved the horror aspects of the novel that you don’t notice until they’re breathing down your neck! So spine chilling.
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I enjoyed reading this book which is filled with demons, magic, and books! This dark academia book is about Tess who works at the library and makes a deal with Eliot where they find an ancient book. They accidentally release a demon into the world and is now haunting Tess. This book was creepy in a good way! I haven't read a good dark book in a while and Tori delivered this demon-filled novel. I enjoyed the writing style and the world-building of the book. I do have to say that the pacing was a little off with the beginning and middle is good but then the end is rushed. Overall this book was well written!

I enjoyed the main character Tess who's main focus is protecting her sister! She's a brave character who has to fight off a demon and also meets a cute boy, Eliot. Eliot was a fun, mysterious character that I loved learning about throughout the novel. I enjoyed both character's character development in this book and enjoyed their dangerous journey. I wouldn't say there were many major side characters in this book as most died or were there for a chapter or two. So I was disappointed a little with that. There is also some romance in this book which was kind of like enemies to lovers/friends to lovers.

The ending was good but it was rushed in my opinion. I wish it was a little slow but overall I enjoyed this book. This book had the right amount of creepiness in it that won't scare you away. I can totally see why some book boxes are curating this book because it's totally meant to be featured in some. I recommend this book to fans of Lakesedges and What We Devour.
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