Devil Darling Spy is an intense tale of espionage, death, and destruction. Set in Central Africa during World War II, the novel follows Sarah, a troubled young woman with a mission to stop the Nazis. It is highly recommended to read the series’ first novel — Orphan Monster Spy — before starting this one. A good portion of the characters from the first story are referenced in this second book. Author Matt Killeen explores heavy themes of racism, colonialism, and good vs. evil while creating complex characters and action-packed events. Unfortunately, several of the scenes seemed unbelievable at best, especially when young Sarah solves the problem in a room full of experts. There are also multiple flashbacks, hallucinations, and/or memories of Sarah’s that were confusing. Devil Darling Spy isn’t exactly darling, but it is a thrilling spy novel.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Viking
Profanity/Language: 7 religious exclamations; 6 mild obscenities; 8 derogatory names. Note: There is frequent swearing in German, which is not tallied.
Violence/Gore: Frequent verbal threats including a gun pulled on someone and a knife held to a girl’s throat. Multiple implied occurrences of violence including characters with scars from beatings and bruised faces. A character walks across human bones. A character wishes to hurt others and dreams of killing. Frequent secondhand reports of violence include remembering being physically abused as a child, tellings of Jews and Polish being rounded up and shot, mention of 200 Jews being locked in a synagogue and burned, alluding to cutting up a body, shooting and/or killing, burning people and things with flamethrowers, children getting their arms cut off, wartime bombings, people trapped and left to drown, use of poisonous gas, torpedo ships. The book includes frequent brief scenes of violence including physical violence, ships being torpedoed, shooting, explosions, being hit with a wrench, and whippings. A few frightening scenes include finding a doctor’s death lab and trying to inject a deadly disease into a character. A scene of destruction of property with no casualties occurs. A few non-detailed scenes of violent death include shooting people point-blank in the head and/or face, sailors being crushed, and bombings. Several scenes of blood and gore include finding dead soldiers, seeing bullet holes in heads, shooting and killing characters, sickness that makes the ill bleed.
Sex/Nudity: A few sexual references including a showgirl; a report of rape; allusion to sexual abuse; mention of children being sterilized; mention of a ‘famous British homosexual’.
Mature Subject Matter:
Murder, World War II, battle, mercenaries, sabotage, pipe bombs, menstrual cycles, diseases including smallpox and malaria, chemical weapons and gas warfare, human experimentation and research, dissecting and desecrating bodies, espioiage, death of family members, extermination/massacre/genocide, slavery and racism, mention of forced labor and bomb containing disease, drowning, superstitions and folk tales, Stalin and wiping out his people, concentration camps, anti-Semitism, allusion to rape and sexual abuse, thoughts of murder, mental illness, kidnapping, stealing, breaking and entering.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters smoke and drink, especially at parties. One party is described as “thick with tobacco smoke and drinks”. A character remembers her alcoholic mothers. A main character is addicted to morphine. He is frequently described as a ‘junkie’. In one scene he is found unconscious, with a syringe in his arm. Another man is described as a ‘comatose drunk’.