“We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger." ~ Tad Williams
After Henry's colossal failure to impress members of the Psychical Society, he agonizes about having to tell Vincent, Lizzie, and Jo. They've put all their faith in him and he's let them down. Henry doesn't mean to be dishonest, but he is already fearful Vincent will come to his senses and become bored with him and leave. Seeing Vincent with a man Henry considers to be more exciting than himself, Henry panics and lies about what occurred at the meeting. Henry keeps meaning to tell Vincent the truth, but the longer he holds the lie inside, the bigger it becomes until it finally festers and explodes at a very inconvenient moment. Henry sees the trip to Devil's Walk as a way of proving himself after his failure with the Psychical Society. When the truth finally comes out, Henry's attempts to make himself look better by lying put a rift between him and Vincent which seems impossible to mend.
Henry is not keen on going to Devil's Walk, but he's certainly not going to let Vincent and Lizzie go alone, especially if it's so dangerous. Besides being generally concerned, Henry still feels bad about lying to Vincent and sees this trip as a chance to redeem himself for his failure with the society. Perhaps if Henry can help with dispelling the ghost, Vincent and the others will forgive him for lying. When they arrive at Devil's Walk, Henry meets Sylvester Ortensi who takes an immediate dislike to Henry. Henry doesn't understand why the man attempts to discredit him at every turn and worse, is obviously trying to drive a wedge between Vincent and him to the point of blatant jealousy. Henry tries hard not to be bothered by his opinions, but he still has the guilt of the lie he told Vincent and the others and it wears at his self-confidence and threatens his sense of reliability. If Vincent finds out now, he will believe that Henry is hiding something proving he's not trustworthy. From the start, and partly of his own doing and guilt, Henry is definitely handicapped.
Vincent is in conflict. He and Lizzie owe a lot to Sylvester, who has known them for years and was a good friend to their mentor, Dunne, and an uncle of sorts to them; he feels a sense of fidelity to Sylvester. Vincent is also loyal to his lover, Henry, and wants to defend him against Sylvester's allegations, but he hesitates to cross him. With the anti-Henry campaign already placing doubt in his mind, Henry's confession forces Vincent over the top and Henry receives the full force of his wrath and feelings of betrayal. Henry is absolutely devastated, but Ortensi couldn't be more pleased. He's wanted Vincent to himself the whole time and now, it seems, he has him.
Besides Vincent and Henry's issues, they still haven't solved the problem that brought them to Devil's Walk; the insanely mad, destructive, intimidating fire witch ghost, who is hell bent on destroying them all. She is, indeed, a formidable enemy. She doesn't play by the rules, making their task even more difficult. They have to find a way to stop her rampage before any hope of continuing the mining project there can resume. As new research and after some colossally unsuccessful failures; new information helps them unravel the mystery of what this fierce entity is so infuriating and why.
As usual, Jordan has written an impressive, angst-ridden tale, guaranteed to frighten most people nearly to death. Ghosts by themselves are scary enough without them being like a fire-breathing dragon, beyond reason, with the cunning ability to sneak up, trap, and barbecue you in a second! I highly recommend this book for those who like suspense, angst, ghosts, revenge, betrayal, and being frightened out of your wits. Thanks, Jordan, I. Am. Still. Shaking.