“After he survived a fire that claimed the life of his twin sister, Ashleigh, Danny Orchard wrote a bestselling memoir about going to Heaven and back. But despite the resulting fame and fortune, he’s never been able to enjoy his second chance at life.
Ash won’t let him.
In life, Danny’s charming and magnetic twin had been a budding psychopath who privately terrorized her family—and death hasn’t changed her wicked ways. Ash has haunted Danny for twenty years and now, just when he’s met the love of his life and has a chance at real happiness, she wants more than ever to punish him for being alive—so she sets her sights on Danny’s new wife and stepson.
Danny knows what Ash really wants is him, and he’s prepared to sacrifice himself in order to save the ones he loves. But to do this, he’ll have to meet his sister where she now resides—and hope that this time, he can keep her there forever.”
Thoughts on the Novel: Yin and yang, the attraction of opposites – no matter how one states it, there is a fundamental natural law that for every thing, person, or idea, there is an opposite. For Danny, there is his twin sister Ashleigh. Blonde where he is dark, talented and outgoing where he is shy and introverted, they are as opposite each other as two people can get, including in their morality. As such things tend to happen, it even means one cannot live without the other. The Damned by Andrew Pyper is all about the complexities of Danny’s relationship with his twin sister and the everlasting bonds between them. Indeed, hell hath no fury like a sister scorned.
For most people, the villain of any story is usually as fascinating, if not more so, than the hero figure. They find the mindset of a psychopath fascinating, and they migrate to any story that places them into that mindset. They are not hampered by regular emotions and therefore are not hampered by a social conscience. Thus, villains tend to enjoy themselves more, which means they are more interesting. With this in mind, it makes sense that readers of The Damned will find Ash more interesting than Danny. She is most definitely the antagonist in the story. She holds a power over the other characters that is enthralling to behold. While she may not appear in every scene, the barest suggestion of her is enough to cause drastic behavior changes in other characters. It is this ability to manipulate others, and the very strong emotions she engenders in her friends and family, that make her a much more compelling character than Danny. This is not to say that Danny is a bad or a boring character. He just cannot compete with his psychopathic sister when it comes to entertaining readers.
The Damned is not for the faint of heart. The trips to the afterlife are quite disturbing and gruesome. Similarly, one could have a field day interpreting the symbolism within each of Danny’s visits as they are full of bizarre, nightmare-inducing creatures and scenes just waiting for someone to discern the hidden meaning of each. Then again, most readers will find Ash’s malignity to be enough to create fear and loathing in equal parts. As a direct counterpoint to all of this evil, Danny tugs on a reader’s heartstrings in the opposite direction, creating sympathy and a sense of loss that adds to the story’s intensity.
Boy and girl, dark and light, good and evil, Heaven and Hell – The Damned explores the duality of nature to chilling effect. People will always be drawn to the dark and disturbed, and Mr. Pyper uses this fascination to create two opposing characters who could no more be separated from each other than humans to air. The dichotomy theme running through the novel serves a greater purpose in highlighting the similarities as much as the differences and exposes the blurred lines between such opposites. It is a thought-provoking, grim, and yet oddly compelling novel that entertains and promotes deep thoughts on the idea of duality.