Painted Devil


226 pages
ISBN 1-895555-48-5
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Joan Buchanan

Joan Buchanan is a writing instructor and storyteller, and the author of
Taking Care of My Cold! and The Nana Rescue.


After reading Michael Bedard’s Governor General’s Award–winning
Redwork several years ago, I looked forward to Painted Devil. Although
the two are very different, both are well written and rely on a layered
development of images, atmosphere, characters, and plot. Teenaged Alice
works part-time at the aging Parkview library, where the new librarian,
Mr. Dwyer, plans to reinstate the “Saturday Morning Club, an
old-fashioned weekly session of storytelling and puppet shows.” The
seemingly innocuous Punch-and-Judy puppet show that Alice and Mr. Dwyer
prepare transforms itself into a sinister force. Bedard’s tense,
controlled descriptions create an increasing sense of foreboding. For
example, Alice senses a shift while reading a fairy tale to her
4-year-old sister: “Shadows of voices drifted down the hall. ... The
window shuddered lightly as the night leaned its velvet arm against the
glass and looked in.”

Alice’s mother is preoccupied with a difficult pregnancy. The
teen’s warm, yet fallible parents are therefore oblivious to the
threats and permeations. The evil builds, pushing Alice into a reluctant
partnership with mysterious Aunt Emily in an effort to recapture safety
and sanity.

I suspect that Bedard will win more awards with this book. Highly


Bedard, Michael., “Painted Devil,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,