Wednesday, April 11, 2012

For Lovers of the Creepy, Surreal, Unconventional, and Strange

A Satan Carol by Alan S. Kessler (Wild Child Publishing, 2011, 257pp.)

In Kessler’s A Satan’s Carol, Satan was always God’s favorite son—that is, until his annoying brother, Jesus, came into the picture. Now he spends most of his time in the world of his own creation, a bizarre facsimile of Earth called Shinyland 7 where his human subjects do what humans do best—make each other totally and completely miserable.

Even though he’s been cast aside in favor of the “Chosen One,” Satan still has hopes to please his father and convince him that he, too, is capable of doing good. As Jesus Christ was mankind’s savior, Satan plans to father a son who will become the messiah for Shinyland 7. In his efforts, Satan manages to produce one son, Pal, but the child is soulless and inanimate, hardly worthy of catching God’s attention, let alone capturing the attention of the unwashed multitudes. To secure his son’s rightful place as messiah, Satan next searches for the Golden Soul, a singular, special soul that will, in essence, make Pal a “real boy.”

Free will plays a big part in the story. In Kessler’s fictional universe, free will belongs to everything—including the Golden Soul. So, naturally, even Satan’s best laid plans go awry. The Soul has no interest in Pal, but instead sees greater promise in the unborn child of Katie Katz, the spoiled daughter of a lawyer. This puts a slight hitch in Satan’s plans, but it’s nothing he hasn’t dealt with before—after all, he can be very persuasive with people when he wants to be.

Instead of giving his story a fast-paced plot, Kessler slowly, but carefully, traces the psychological paths of a group of characters who are pawns in the devil’s master plan.

I’ll just go ahead and say it: Everyone in the story is pretty much damned, or is otherwise in serious danger of becoming damned. Most are just plain, ordinary people who fight against Satan’s influence: the girl, Katie, who is considering an abortion; her father, a repentant criminal attorney who considers suicide after a lifetime of wrong-doing; a pesky, deeply religious farmer who keeps muddling with Satan’s plans—just to name a few. Others have become Satan’s willing minions, including a seriously creepy abortion doctor who sold his soul in exchange for acceptance into medical school.

It’s not a story for everyone, but for lovers of the creepy, surreal, unconventional, and strange, definitely an original and interesting read. Recommended for fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King.

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