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Before the Devil Knows You're Here by Autumn Krause

A deliciously dark folk horror for fans of Maggie Stiefvater and Erin Craig, blending the tall tales of Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan with Faustian elements, and centering a fierce Mexican-American poet on a quest to rescue her brother.

1836. Wisconsin Territory. All Catalina has left is her little brother—Mama died years ago, and Papa was buried just yesterday. She and Jose Luis are alone now, in their ramshackle cabin on the edge of the Wisconsin wilderness, with the cold weather coming.

As Catalina sets plans to ensure their survival, a strange man appears—a man covered in bark, leaves growing from his head, and sap dripping from his eyes. Before Catalina can stop him, he scoops Jose Luis up and disappears. He leaves behind a strange bird with crimson wings. She can’t let this man—if that’s what he is—have her brother. With no idea where they’ve gone, she tracks the bird in hopes it will lead her to Jose Luis.

Along the way she finds help from a young Paul Bunyan, whose life has also been changed by the Man of Sap. As they travel deeper into the Northwoods, they uncover more of the Man of Sap’s history and the connections he and Catalina share, ultimately learning her fate is deeply entwined with his—set in seeds planted long ago—and now, giving her the power to change his life, or end it.


Before the Devil Knows You're Here by Autumn Krause is a beautifully written story. It reads like a folklore that has been around for years. Krause takes the story of Johnny Appleseed and turns it into a haunting beautiful tale. This story was so heartbreaking. The way she wove Paul Bunyan's into the story as well. The main character Catalina grew up with her brother Jose with their Pa in a cabin deep in the woods. In the woods there is a dangerous creature referred to as "The Man of Sap" and he roams the forest. The Man of Sand wonders the forest planting his apple seeds which grow these strange apples. The trees are cursed to bring people to them to each these strange beautiful apples.

Catalina's brother gets kidnapped by The Man of Sap and she runs off into the woods to find him. She stumbles across Paul and they decide to partner together. This dual point of view novel is so great. I absolutely adored the characters. I loved how Krause sucks the reader in and keeps them hooked on this beautiful journey. I really enjoyed how Krause explored the subject of generational curses. One of the things that makes the book really special is that the author based the characters of Catalina on her grandmother.

This is such a special book and I enjoyed every part of it. The folk horror aspect was done so well. I love the Latin American surrealism and the American Folklore all being blended together. Krause did a great job tackling the subjects of regret, forgiveness, despair, and having hope. If you want a beautiful spooky book to read this fall, please check this book out. I absolutely adore it. Thank you for such a gorgeous masterpiece Autumn Krause.

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