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A History of Fear

A Novel



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About The Book

This “disorienting, creepy, paranoia-inducing reimagining of the devil-made-me-do-it tale” (Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World) follows the harrowing downfall of a tortured graduate student arrested for murder.

Grayson Hale, the most infamous murderer in Scotland, is better known by a different name: the Devil’s Advocate. The twenty-five-year-old American grad student rose to instant notoriety when he confessed to the slaughter of his classmate Liam Stewart, claiming the Devil made him do it.

When Hale is found hanged in his prison cell, officers uncover a handwritten manuscript that promises to answer the question that’s haunted the nation for years: was Hale a lunatic, or had he been telling the truth all along?

The first-person narrative reveals an acerbic young atheist, newly enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to carry on the legacy of his recently deceased father. In need of cash, he takes a job ghostwriting a mysterious book for a dark stranger—but he has misgivings when the project begins to reawaken his satanophobia, a rare condition that causes him to live in terror that the Devil is after him. As he struggles to disentangle fact from fear, Grayson’s world is turned upside-down after events force him to confront his growing suspicion that he’s working for the one he has feared all this time—and that the book is only the beginning of their partnership.

“A modern-day Gothic tale with claws” (Jennifer Fawcett, author of Beneath the Stairs), A History of Fear marries dread-inducing atmosphere with heart-palpitating storytelling.

About The Author

Photograph by Chelsea Valentine

Luke Dumas is the author of the novel A History of Fear. His nonfiction has appeared in Literary Hub, Hobart, Last Exit, Panorama: The Journal of Travel, Place, and Nature, and more. He received his master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh and is a graduate of the University of Chicago. 

Why We Love It

“I was alone in an unfamiliar hotel when I first read A History of Fear on submission. Bad choice. I couldn’t sleep at night, afraid that fiends—bird-like terrors—were stalking me from outside my window. Shadows turned into horrifying shapes; light was not enough to scare them away. Luke Dumas’s haunting literary suspense-horror gets under your skin. Is the devil a figment of our imagination? Or is the devil real? Well, you’ll have to find out yourself, but make sure to read this novel somewhere warm, open, and sunny. That’s the only way you’ll feel safe.”

—Loan L., Editor, on A History of Fear

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (October 3, 2023)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982199036

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Raves and Reviews

"A methodical story about evil—its mystery and its toll—takes its murderous narrator past the brink of sanity. . . . Lean and propulsive, this dissection of evil marches forward with a deadly logic and sleight of hand, with occasional gaps filled in by an enterprising journalist and a Scottish information commissioner. The key is that we feel for Grayson as he leads us up to the brink of his terrible deed. The characters surrounding him, from his ghoulish family to his annoying roommate to his eventual victim, come to life on the page, all part of Grayson’s living nightmare. . . . It’s a patient pursuit and a patient book, one that builds without the reader quite realizing it. It blurs the line between mental illness and something less definable, more supernatural and sinister. A muscular, enigmatic, and devilishly smart read." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“[A] stellar debut, a complex whydunit . . . . Admirers of Andrew Pyper’s The Demonologist will be riveted.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A delicious walk along the razor's edge between the imagined and the supernatural, A History of Fear is candy for readers who like their thrills real and their horror a worrying whisper in their head." —Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist and The Residence

A History of Fear presents itself as a disquieting cache of nightmares, a nested doll narrative that reads like a found-footage Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg. Readers, beware: this novel is not safe and will have you questioning what's real for many sleepless nights to come.” —Clay McLeod Chapman, author of The Remaking, Whisper Down the Lane, and Ghost Eaters

"A History of Fear succeeds on so many levels—as a haunting tale of the supernatural, a harrowing story of suspense, and a stark warning about the power of our inner demons. I consumed this book breathlessly, and every time I think of its jaw-dropping ending, I feel a chill all over again." —Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot

"A History of Fear is a disorienting, creepy, paranoia-inducing reimagining of the devil-made-me-do-it tale. A clever, twisty novel, imbued with emotional and psychological insight. Luke's vision of Old Scratch left me thrilled and looking over my shoulder." —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World and The Pallbearers Club

“A History of Fear deftly plays with perception and will have you questioning what is real and what horrors we are capable of. A modern-day Gothic tale with claws, it latches into you and doesn’t let go.” —Jennifer Fawcett, author of Beneath the Stairs

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