by Gabrielle Faust and Solomon Schneider
$14.95 (paperback) | $5.95 (Kindle)
Barking Rain Press
January 12, 2012
Visit the official Revenge website
Review copy received courtesy of the authors.
When Marcus Glenfield committed suicide, he took his place among the Legions of Hell as the Demon of Regret. When he learns that the Prince of Wickedness, Belial, is planning to take his former fiancé, Brenda, as his consort, Marcus’s newfound belief in a second chance is quickly shattered in a fit of all too human rage. Incensed by the new demon’s disrespectful hostility, Belial plunges Marcus into the deepest pits of Hell. But Lucifer has other plans for Marcus. For in the tormented lands of Purgatory, a strange and powerful uprising has gathered to form a new plane of existence—one that would break the ancient caste system of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Limbo and Earth, thwarting both God and Satan’s permanency within the universe. Not only have these brash metaphysical pirates kidnapped the powerful child born of Brenda and Belial’s union, they have also guided Marcus out of the prisons of Hell to their new realm. When they promise Marcus freedom in return for his help, he realizes that he will have to choose a side. But can he find one that he can truly believe in?
Revenge is a novel that readers have to feel for themselves–a plot summary like the one provided above explains the gist of what happens in the wonderfully crafted novel co-written by Gabrielle Faust and Solomon Schneider, but it doesn’t do justice to the intricately crafted events that occur in the book. I’ve never encountered a text so moving and philosophical that it gives you a whole different reading experience. In other words, when I was reading Revenge, I was so deeply immersed and engaged in the act of reading, that I forgot it was a novel.
However, it’s also an incredibly thought-provoking novel written in a very luxurious style–luxurious not only in the sense that the descriptions are opulent and savoury, but also in the sense that one feels richer while reading the book. That said, it’s not written in a Hollywood blockbuster style like other books on the same subject. It’s not written with a breakneck speed, launching and propelling the reader to the end.
It’s not an “easy” book, and will definitely challenge you in terms of the way it’s written, and the flow, pacing, and narrative. But it’s more rewarding than the blockbuster type of books. Unlike those, Revenge will actually stay with you after you’ve finished reading it.
Revenge is, in some ways, the demon-themed book that I’ve been waiting for. It’s free of campiness, it doesn’t read like a video game adaptation (which many demon-centred texts do), nor is it RPGish. It’s about demons, of course, but it’s about so much more. It’s philosophical, which doesn’t come as a surprise given co-author Schneider’s background in studying Philosophy. Although demons and angels are both involved, Heaven and Hell, it’s Purgatory that is at the core of Revenge, and both warring sides want control over it, in essence. At the outset, the novel doesn’t seem that way, though–it starts off with the main character, Marcus, who is obsessed with a chair he bought at a garage sale.
From this small spec of dust grows a seedling, which reveals that Marcus is getting vivid dreams of a gruesome nature and that he’s seeing into Hell. He’s alienated his girlfriend, Brenda, who wants nothing to do with him, and he loses his job under tense circumstances. He then meets a demon called Desiderium, who unlocks the regrets that torment him, which leads to Marcus handing over his soul to the creature, but there’s a catch. Marcus doesn’t do himself in properly, and so he’s technically still alive, and until he dies, Desiderium can’t have his soul. A few clever twists later, the tables have turned and suddenly, the demon isn’t really the one in power anymore–or so it seems.
One of the best elements of this novel is the plot twists. They’re shocking and sometimes even fierce, but never did they make me question their logic or why things unfolded the way they did. Another of the most striking points about the book is the uniqueness in the worldbuilding. Sure, there are a few givens, like God and the Devil, Lucifer, demons, angels, Purgatory, the Garden of Eden, souls, etc, but Faust and Schneider, while they stick to the main rules/familiarities readers have with demons, break out of them at the same time. This is particularly evident with the physical description of Desiderium, which isn’t at all like a typical demon’s–it’s even cooler.
Marcus must begin anew as a demon, and along the way toward finding out just what he’s supposed to do when he’s dealt a rather deceitful hand, he encounters more demons, more betrayal, and finally, he finds himself in a new place after a girl and man, Amberlee and John, introduce him to a couple who are difficult to describe, but in one of their explanations, they tell Marcus they’re like the embodiments of Yin and Yang. They also go by The King and the Queen. They look like Greek Gods, but don’t like being called deities–they’re also not demons or angels, and it’s unclear what they really are, but their agenda, which at first seems benign, turns out to be a lot more sinister, particularly when it comes to the girl, Amberlee, who is also not quite what she seems.
Brenda also returns to the fray, and we learn that her involvement in the plot runs far deeper and is far more tied to Marcus’s fate than previously indicated. Lucifer also plays a prominent role in this novel, and it’s definitely an interesting depiction with shades of Gaiman-esque influence painted on him throughout. The Archangels and angelic beings get involved in the latter portions of the novel, including the Archangel Michael, and they have their own history with Purgatory, which is interesting.
There are sections in which the narrative backstory lags, particularly with the explanation of Michael’s war in Purgatory with the Swamp Lord, which feels more like reading a historical text, but thankfully there aren’t too many passages like this in the book. There are also some memorable fight scenes–not in the Mortal Kombat sense or anything–no, these scenes have a bit more emotional resonance to them and are often pretty short in terms of the actual action, but nonetheless they stuck out in my mind. Again, I think this helped in ensuring that this book came off as more a descendent of Paradise Lost rather than an action-packed video game, not that there’s anything wrong with those types of fantasy and horror novels, but Revenge has a decidedly more literary bent to it.
It’s tricky to maintain a balance between the plotlines and I do think we spend a bit too much time apart from Marcus at certain points, even if he is alluded to. Still, the authors pull the balance off for the most part. By the time the novel reaches its conclusion, you will, of course, be left wanting more, and the events scream sequel (which I for one certainly hope is the case), albeit not in a gimmicky way.
Demon lovers, prepare to feast on Revenge. It’s a rich novel providing a unique reading experience, great worldbuilding, exciting characters, and a wonderful epic plot. If you haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, I urge you to.
To find out more about Gabrielle Faust, visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. You can also find out more about co-author Solomon Schneider here. And for those of you attending the World Horror Convention 2012 in Salt Lake City next week, keep an eye out for the lovely Ms. Gabrielle