New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.
Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He’s not mentally ill, but that doesn’t seem to matter. He is accused of a crime he can’t quite square with his memory. In the darkness of his room on his first night, he’s visited by a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It’s no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down. Pepper rallies three other inmates in a plot to fight back: Dorry, an octogenarian schizophrenic who’s been on the ward for decades and knows all its secrets; Coffee, an African immigrant with severe OCD, who tries desperately to send alarms to the outside world; and Loochie, a bipolar teenage girl who acts as the group’s enforcer. Battling the pill-pushing staff, one another, and their own minds, they try to kill the monster that’s stalking them. But can the Devil die?
The Devil in Silver brilliantly brings together the compelling themes that spark all of Victor LaValle’s radiant fiction: faith, race, class, madness, and our relationship with the unseen and the uncanny. More than that, it’s a thrillingly suspenseful work of literary horror about friendship, love, and the courage to slay our own demons.
Here is what Mark B. had to say about it:
Pepper is brought to the New Hyde mental institution, because he got into a fight with the police. He believes that the police have dropped him there, rather than do all the paperwork it would take to arrest him. He's sure that he'll be out after the weekend, but many weeks later he finds himself just another drugged out patient in the ward. They are all frightened of the wards' oldest resident, who sometimes slips into their rooms in the middle of the night, but why? Pepper chooses to stay behind and help his fellow inmates, and by the end of the novel, he has grown and benefited from what originally seemed a mistake. This novel is filled with great lines that I wanted to highlight. It is also chock-full of humor and pathos and a cast of unforgettable characters.