When forces of good and evil clash, one demon seeks to make a difference in Caruso’s (The Dark Side of Truth, 2013, etc.)supernatural novel.
Boundaries of all sorts are blurred in this inventive, fantastical work, which follows Wake, a former human and current Soul Collector–in-training, as he seeks to negate the terms of the contract that binds him to Hell. He must fulfill a series of tasks as his evil superiors and peers—among them, of course, Satan himself—antagonize him. All the while, he struggles to balance his human inclinations with his demonic need to draw sustenance from recently dead bodies. At the center of the conflict is the young, pregnant Annemarie, to whom both God and Satan have laid claim. Wake must traverse a network of demons, demon hunters and angels to make sure that Annemarie doesn’t fall into the hands of Lucifer himself. In particular, he must avoid the manipulations and machinations of his hellish co-worker Nevin, whose hateful plans threaten to circumvent Wake’s good intentions. Caruso tells the story in skillfully paced chapters that capture the momentum and haste of Wake’s predicament; he also delivers textured characters with subtle emotions.At times, Wake’s expression of his Christian faith comes off as pedantic and judgmental (“Why would God give humans free will? They have a choice to be anything they want, even a serial killer. It doesn’t make sense”),which detracts from the sophistication and sensitivity he shows elsewhere in the novel. Still, Caruso’s competence with magical realism allows him to seamlessly forge a world in which the natural and supernatural, and the divine and devilish, coexist convincingly. The result is a work that newly and sharply reframes a millennia-old theme in religious literature: humanity’s confrontation with good and evil and its choice to side with one over the other.
A fun, galloping read, full of thrills and pathos, that fans of YA and Christian fiction will enjoy.