A dark fantasy about an alliance between the Queen of Hell and the Son of God.
Kennedy’s riveting fantasy debut subverts the familiar biblical moment when Jesus, fasting in the desert, is tempted by Satan, who tells him that if he’s hungry, he should turn the desert stones into bread. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus reprimands Satan and rejects him. Readers familiar with that story will get the first of many shocks when they encounter a similar moment in Kennedy’s novel—not only because Nyx, the sultry, eloquent Queen of Hell, does the tempting instead of Satan, but also because the Son of God (here named Tribunal) hates the human race he’s been sent to Earth to save: “They are vile,” he tells her, later adding, “God should have destroyed them all. He should have brought back the waters and swept life from this world.” When God recalls all the angels from Earth except Nyx and her fellow “Descended,” the demons find themselves free to torment the human race at Tribunal’s behest. Kennedy’s narrative expertly hops from one time period to another, from the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire to the corruption of popes during the Middle Ages to the bloody wars of the Crusades. He fills these vignettes with vivid, if plentifully profane, dialogue and fast-paced action as Nyx follows Tribunal’s plan to wipe out the human race and make the world over into his version of paradise. Kennedy infuses his novel with dozens of characters from Judeo-Christian literature (including Jesus, Judas, Peter and the archangel Michael), but the willful, sexually provocative Nyx is by far the book’s most complex character and the wild card that subverts the narrative. The novel’s explicitness seems guaranteed to offend some readers, particularly devout Christians, but it carries off its conceit of transforming historical and biblical content into high fantasy with a great deal of skill and wit.
An intriguing, intensely readable combination of Game of Thrones and the New Testament.