Bishop’s debut novel offers the bitingly ironic confessions of a fallen angel.
This is a sprawling, alternate account of key theological points of Judeo-Christian mythology, including God’s Creation of the universe, the ordering of the heavenly host, the births of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the toiling of mankind under the whips and temptations of the forces of darkness. It’s all dictated to a hapless mortal man named Paul by a fallen angel who calls himself Jetebais, who’s the same age as other famous fallen angels, such as Lucifer, as well as the sea monster Leviathan. From him, readers learn details of different kinds of heavenly beings and of the mission that he’s set for himself in the human world: to expose the deeds and designs of Satan and thwart his manipulations of humankind. Jetebais knows Satan’s thoughts and has a carefully high estimation of his adversary’s abilities: “He is visible and invisible,” he tells Paul, “he is colossal and microscopic.” Jetebais himself is far from innocent, though; as he confesses, he’s caused great pain in the name of charity and fairness, but he’s determined to counterbalance Satan’s influence in the world. Bishop spends a good deal of time presenting seminal events from Old Testament literature from Jetebais’ new viewpoint, and he portrays Jetebais as a proud, defiant character who protests his innocence of Lucifer’s original offenses (“I did not follow Satan; I simply left at the same time!”). But as the action moves forward to the present day (including, inevitably, to papal politics), the author fills it with human characters. Readers will also find that the narrative takes on more sharply theological tones; at one point, it even provides the fallen-angel perspective on other religions throughout the world. The rest of the story, though often patchy with expository dialogue, is richly atmospheric, as when Jetebais warns humans about Satan, “Remember, you are nothing but livestock to him, to be teased and tortured for the sheer fun of it.”
A high-fantasy account of reality as seen by one of Satan’s brothers, sure to appeal to lovers of both fantasy and Christian literature.