September 9, 2013

Book Reviews (XI)

Book Review: A Satan Carol by Alan S. Kessler

Book description:

Nostalgic for the Inquisition and plague, Satan feels neglected by the modern world that no longer cares about heresy or blames him for disease and death. He plans to create a new genesis, a place where people will love him. For that, his son needs just the right soul.

A Satan Carol is a horror story with a message for those who want to understand God's apparent absence as the intersection of freewill and choice. It is a story with religious themes written for a secular reader. It is, in the end, a tale about family values even if they originate in hell.

My Review

Reading this novel brought to my mind the morality plays of the 15th and 16th centuries which involve a direct conflict between right and wrong or good and evil and from which a moral lesson may be drawn.

The novel starts in Ireland 1848, with a moving depiction of the Irish famine, the pressing atmosphere, and the people who try to survive; with Meg who believes herself blessed by Christ. She runs along coaches to beg for the rent she has to pay to her landlord Mr. Green. In Liam, her son, the villagers see a healer whose power could only come from Christ.  

In the same chapter, the story moves then, all of a sudden, in Massachusetts, one hundred and eighty years later and we meet fourteen year old Katie Katz and her whole family.

Then we meet Orem, in the past and find out why Satan favored him with visions.

After reading the first two chapters, I had the impression that things were moving too slow. The story unfolds in alternating points of view. It's not the type of story one calls a page turner. It has a multitude of characters and back-stories I lost track of at some moment.  The reader must pay attention to all the details in order to keep track of everything. The main lead belongs to Mr. Green, aka Satan, who needs a soul for his son. He wants to prove God that he isn't as bad as everyone considers him to be, and that he also can create something good. But does Father love me in return?/Not in this world but maybe in the next/when He sees with pride/how I too can create something out/of toxic nothing. An interesting, manipulating and conniving character. Mr. Green was a true believer in the holy church of his plans.

I can't say I felt empathy for any of the characters, no matter how good or bad they were. I'd have liked more insight into them.

As for the ending, I have mixed feelings regarding the way everything was wrapped up. An odd combination of macabre and religious themes. Maybe I didn’t get the exact message of this book.

Disclosure: My copy was offered by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: Three stars.

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