Yet in the middle of the night, when my home is surrounded by dark—not a streetlight to be had—it’s easy to let the imagination wander. And ever since I started reading The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi, that’s what my imagination’s been doing. And the places it’s been going aren’t pretty.
The strength of this book is that it plays on universal fears and relives real-life horrors. While the main character’s predicament gives it a who-done-it feel that propelled me forward, it wasn’t her situation alone that gave me the creeps. It was the setting, the late 80s/early 90s backdrop of Paul Bernardo, of the things he did. Of the girls who have gone missing and been murdered, then, before and since.
The book claws its way in because of this backdrop. This isn’t simply fiction. So much has been—and could still be—true. That’s where the horror factor lies.
It’s doubly horrific as a mother. The scenarios my mind reels out are rarely about me: they’re about my children. I have knocked wood so many times, asking the fates to keep them safe. The fears I have are almost invariably about them.
I can only imagine what de Mariaffi—a mother herself—felt when writing this book, having to immerse herself in its depths. I only spent a few days with it and yet my world has been painted with a slightly darker brush.