The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

To the Devil—A Daughter is an action-packed occult thriller by the author who almost single-handedly invented and perfected the form. In the novel, Christina Mordant (actually Ellen Beddows) has been dedicated to Satan by her father, Henry Beddows, in return for wealth and worldly advancement. She is ultimately to be sacrificed by Canon Augustus Copley-Syle and his coven upon her approaching twenty-first birthday. Christina’s father, balking as the fatal day approaches, has hidden his daughter on the Riviera in a villa next to that of Molly Fountain, a war widow and writer of popular spy thrillers. Molly becomes interested in the strange conduct of her lonely, attractive neighbor and intrudes upon her, finally worming out the part of Christina’s story that Christina knows.

Molly’s son, John, arrives and decides to help. He grows steadily more interested in Christina, who is innocent by day and possessed during the night. Marquis de Grasse and his son Count Jules attempt to lure away Christina. Molly, sensing Satanism, summons her old friend and former employer in the Intelligence Office, C. B. Verney, for assistance. Together, they uncover a plot to abduct Christina so that she can be brought back to England for sacrifice by the canon, who wishes to transfer her soul to a hideous homunculus he has created. If the experiment succeeds, he plans to sell an army of such beings to the Communists. Much of the novel’s action consists of...

(The entire section is 505 words.)