The Devil's Promise

By Veronica Bennett

1. The book is set in the 20th century about a girl called Catriona and Cat for short. She goes to live with her uncle and cousin Jamie at a castle after the death of her father. Jamie believes that she was meant to come here to reveal the castle's secrets in the past. They were dark secrets that were very powerful and no one has ever talked about. He believed that the secrets would reveal the truth about his mother's imprisonment and his father's and grandmother's reluctance to talk about the past. The story is about a ghostly mystery set in the Scotland highlands.

I really enjoyed reading this book as it had a mixture of genres from thriller to historical. Every page was very gripping and interesting to read. I think that the book has an equal amount of mystery and historical, because the story is about a promise that was made in the past. It's not a very long book to read so you won't find it hard and has a very haunting story. There can be different time zones in this book that tells us about what happened in the past. I liked the fact that they linked both what happened in the past and what will happen, as it was interesting and different to read. I didn't find this book very challenging to read, as there wasn't a wide range of vocabulary. I would definitely recommend this book to children aged between 11 and 13.

By Sharukaa

2. Set in the early 1900's, The Devil's Promise, portrays romance, mystery and adventure as Catriona finds her destiny and the hidden truths of her family in the Scottish castle of Drumwithie.

The Devil's Promise starts with a glimpse of the past which is later defined as the ‘hidden truths of Drumwithie'. This is set twenty-one years earlier from the main of the novel but is still revisited throughout the novel. The dramatic start of the death of a baby boy creates a sense of mystery upon the book, intriguing the reader to carry on reading. The emotional opening allows the reader to empathise with the unknown characters making the reader want to find out more about them and read on.

Veronica Bennett's historical fictional novel has a confusing plot, as it is a mystery novel, but at the end, is eventually untangled. The climax was unpredictable from the start of the novel right through till the end and left no question without an answer; this is a demonstration of Bennett's ability to create a superb structure of a novel while still maintaining the ability to intrigue the reader, which is why The Devil's Promise is one of my favourite historical fiction  novels. The novel is an excellent representation of life and manner of the 20th century in a Scottish castle and expresses the belief in the supernatural people had in that period of time.

Compared to some other historical fiction novels, Devil's Promise is primarily fictional as the historical context isn't written in depth. However, the brief knowledge of the 20th century the novel provides makes me want to find out more about that particular time.

The novel is mainly set in the Scottish castle of Drumwithie which is described as "glorious in itself", "Drumwithie stood, square and shining, as it always had". The castle is portrayed as traditional and built for the upper class and fits the purpose of hosting a traditional and upper class family of the early 20th century. The castle grounds and Scottish weather are used to the advantage of the characters, like using an underground cave to hold all of the family secrets and disappointments or the answer to every question Cat may have asked, in a box.

 The protagonist Catriona, or Cat, is the easiest to empathise with as you are experiencing the novel with her as it is written from her point of view. She is a nineteen year old girl who is headstrong however is seen as ‘unladylike'. This is a popular choice of a female lead however it makes Catriona likeable and a good role model. Within the novel, Cat begins to see the supernatural. This sparks off her adventure of mysterious clues leading to knowledge of new relatives and history of the family. This develops her character, especially towards the end of the novel, as she is still passionate about her beliefs but is more considerate about others. Another main character is Jamie. He is the handsome and witty son of Cat's father's cousin. His wits are shown through some of the comments he makes such as, "Bloomers are an entirely practical idea." His father owns Drumwithie castle and Jamie plays a major role in the mystery of Cat's ghost.

One of my favourite parts of the novel is when Mrs McAllister- Jamie's grandmother- tells Cat the ancient Scottish folk tale of Cait Sìth and the faeries as it relates the plot to 20th century beliefs and explains why Jamie calls Catriona Cat. "It is believed that some children, often oddly behaved, sickly ones, and so on, are not human at all, but faerie children, changelings, left by the faerie folk in exchange for the human child. In a household where a changeling has been left, a payment must be made by the faeries to the devil every seven years." This gives an insight into Catriona's personality, as Jamie calls Catriona Cat because of her likeness to the legend, and an insight into the history of Scotland.

Overall, The Devil's Promise is certainly a brilliant story which has been fantastically written. As a reader, this makes me want to read more novels by Veronica Bennett as her writing is descriptive and strong in character yet informative and has set a standard, for me, to the rest of her books. However, I don't think The Devil's Promise should be turned into a film. The characters and setting are open to imagination which is what makes them what they are- watching them from someone else's point of view, I feel, would spoil the novel.

By Harrie

3. The slightly formal writing style of this novel takes some getting used to but adds to the period feel of the novel which is packed full of historical detail.  Bennett is also very careful to capture the Scottish accents the characters speak in to make their story feel more realistic and to emphasise the divides between the classes.  Despite being written in the first person we found it hard to connect with the characters and became more caught up with the supernatural aspects of the story and solving the secrets of the castle rather than the history.

By Cramlington Learning Village, Northumberland

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