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God's Demon by Wayne Barlowe - A Book Review
A Story of Redemption
This is not an ordinary book by any means, and its deliberate and elegant prose will keep you enraptured to the end. This is a book about Hell. More specifically, it is a book about a demon seeking redemption from hell. I am not a fan of horror or hell, but the premise of the book prompted me to start reading it, and the thoughtfulness with which it was written convinced me to buy it.
The beginning is a bit sad and is actually part of the end. The conclusion, although satisfying and a total resolution, feels a bit empty. But the story itself is incredible. Not completely accurate to the Bible, God's Demon does do a fantastic job of presenting Hell. For one, not only does each soul carry a painful and sometimes paralyzing burden, a soul can be transformed into a brick that is used to build the walls of Hell's cities. You can imagine the pain of being twisted into a brick, and then the agony of being stuck in one shape to stare at the landscape for all eternity, pressed together with other soul bricks. This is enough to make me not want to go there. These are the sort of details that make Hell a real and vivid place for the reader. Barlowe spends enough time describing these horrors to give you the sense of being there, but only to fully develop the story and setting so it can have its full effect. The graphic portrayal of hell and torture and suffering is not meant to be a spectacle but an engine to drive the story forward.
Barlowe’s stark description of Hell and its citizens makes the goal of the main character all the more enticing, and by the time we get a glimpse of heaven, it is like cool water on a scorching day, a grand relief that feels better than any dessert or rest imaginable. We never get to see heaven, but there is a moment when we see a likeness of heaven, and it is unforgettable. In my opinion, the best moment is when one of the main characters, (I can't say who or exactly what in fear of spoiling it), makes a pivotal decision, and it is probably the best and most dramatic scenes I have ever read.
I was confused at one point over God's anger at Sargatanas since he was reaching for heaven, but perhaps there's a deeper meaning that I missed. It also doesn’t completely make sense why it was necessary for Sargatanas to go to war to prove himself worthy of Heaven, and the story does lose its way a little here.
All in all, God's Demon is an amazing story that deserves to be read from cover to cover, and is well worth the cover price. If you're looking for a story about redemption of the unredeemable and beauty amidst ashes, this is it.