Since I read The Changeling last year (and had it immediately become one of my favorite books of all time) and now I find myself buying any book of Victor LaValle’s that comes through the store. (Well, I made my parents buy this one from the bookstore I work at as a Christmas present for me when they came to visit.) LaValle is the master of magical realism. Each of his books that I have read so far start out as a completely normal novel of realistic fiction until it suddenly isn’t. And this book was no exception.
The Devil in Silver follows Pepper, a man who ends up in the mental ward of a hospital one night because the police don’t feel like doing paperwork. From there, LaValle shows a crossroads of America, showing us all different kinds of people who call this hospital their home. From the quite old to the quite young, he gives lives and full backstories to characters who, in other literature, tend to just become flat characters. Added to all that is the man with a bison head who climbs through the ceiling and attacks people.
LaValle questions what it means to be “sane” as well as looking at the good and bad sides of mental illness treatment. On top of that, he has created a crazy mystery plot that never stops moving (even when the characters themselves are having a hard time moving due to being drugged and/or tied down). Out of the three LaValle books I have read, this is my number two.