THE SERPENT'S CIRCLE by Patrick Harpur

THE SERPENT'S CIRCLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a little village in England's West Country, there's a picturesque old Abbey--where the Order of the Little Brothers of the Apostles, complete with cloistered teaching monks, has been praying and running a local school for centuries. And Pope John XXV, during his upcoming trip to Britain, will be making a quiet pastoral trip to bless the Abbey on its 700th anniversary. All very nice, right? Wrong! Because the Order, an offshoot of 13th-century heretics, has been secretly nursing its heresies for centuries (they deny the Incarnation and the fact of Redemption, for a start)--and they're planning to do something unspeakable and transfiguring to the unsuspecting Pope when he visits! (Already there are nasty black Masses going on, involving townsfolk-heretics too.) Can anyone stop these quasi-Satanic monks from carrying out their vile schemes? Of course. First, there's young lad Tom Reardon, an Abbey schoolboy who's about to become a monastery novice and take part in the Pope's visit: gifted with second sight, Tom begins to get suspicious when a school-chum dies suddenly--after writing Tom a letter with wild accusations about the monks' dark doings. Meanwhile, too, plump Vatican priest Vittorio--assigned to research the Order for the Pope--comes up with all that horrid, forgotten heresy history; so, fearing for the Pope's safety, he hurries over to England incognito, eager to do some sleuthing around the Abbey in the 48 hours before the Pope's arrival. And eventually Tom (aided by a magic ring) and Father Vittorio (aided by Dutch researcher Hannah) will both do their best to warn the Pope of imminent danger. But Vittorio will be captured, the Pope will be drugged, and there'll be a heretics' Mass at the finale--with forces of good and evil fighting for the Pope's soul amid fire and spectres and Exorcist-style writhings. For fans of Church-related hocus-pocus: sturdy entertainment that's atmospherically detailed, occasionally scary (even Tom's beloved Mum is a secret heretic!), and relatively tasteful.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's