A vast, Conan-style saga with an inspiring protagonist who battles demons.

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THE SABRAEL CONFESSION

THE HEAVENLY WAR CHRONICLES

In this religious fantasy debut, an angel chronicles his adventures in heaven and on Earth.

Before the creation of the universe, Earth, and humanity, Sabrael is an angel in heaven. His task for the Almighty is to decorate the seven halls with “all manner of flora.” A quiet being, Sabrael is surprised when fellow angel Lucifer becomes friendly. He charms Sabrael into his confidence, and the shy angel’s stature grows in association with Lucifer, who is the closest among the host to the Almighty. Eventually, Lucifer comes to believe that life shouldn't be directed by, and full of praise to, Him. The resulting exile of Lucifer and his fallen host decimates heaven. To keep the fallen from preying on the recently created humans, God sends seven angels—including Michael, Raphael, Sabrael, and Barachiel—to Earth. There, they will protect God’s son, Jesus, through childhood and adolescence so that he might “cleanse mankind...and live perfectly in accordance with the Father’s law.” While on Earth, they each possess superpowers, such as enhanced speed, strength, and the ability to manipulate appearances. But they are trapped there—and can have no further communication with the Almighty until Jesus is summoned back to heaven. By turns emotionally rousing and graphically violent, Smith’s novel opens the Heavenly War Chronicles. The narrative initially feels like a straightforward adventure about Lucifer's jealousy and banishment from heaven. However, war between the two winged camps merely sets the stage for even grittier battles on Earth. While disguised as a human, Sabrael can heal wounds instantaneously and use divine weaponry. Only the removal of his heart can immobilize him or any of the fallen; in one vicious scene, Sabrael reaches into the chest of the demon Caim, who “clamped a hand on my forearm and dug his nails in, bit my hand, begged me to stop.” More surprising still is that the book becomes increasingly episodic, and the mission to protect Jesus is subsumed by the chaos of the wider world. Sabrael’s addiction to humanity and the further lives he leads are riveting to behold.

A vast, Conan-style saga with an inspiring protagonist who battles demons.

Pub Date: May 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5089-7452-9

Page Count: 578

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

THE BOOK OF V.

Esther, the Old Testament teenager who reluctantly married a Persian king and saved her people, is connected across the ages to two more contemporary women in a sinuous, thoughtful braid of women’s unceasing struggles for liberty and identity.

Biblical Esther, second-wave feminist Vee, and contemporary mother-of-two Lily are the women whose narrative strands and differing yet sometimes parallel dilemmas are interwoven in Solomon’s (Leaving Lucy Pear, 2016, etc.) questing, unpredictable new novel. All three are grappling—some more dangerously than others—with aspects of male power versus their own self-determination. Esther, selected from 40 virgins to be the second queen—after her predecessor, Vashti, was banished (or worse)—is the strangest. Her magical powers can bring on a shocking physical transformation or reanimate a skeletal bird, yet she is still a prisoner in a gilded cage, mother to an heir, frustrated daughter of an imperiled tribe. Vee, wife of an ambitious senator in 1970s Washington, finds herself a player in a House of Cards–type scenario, pressured toward sexual humiliation by her unscrupulous husband. Lily, in 21st-century Brooklyn, has chosen motherhood over work and is fretting about the costumes for her two daughters to wear at the Purim carnival honoring Esther. Alongside questions of male dominance, issues of sexuality arise often, as do female communities, from Esther’s slave sisters to Vee’s consciousness-raising groups to Lily’s sewing circle. And while layers of overlap continue among the three women's stories—second wives, sewing, humming—so do subtly different individual choices. Finely written and often vividly imagined, this is a cerebral, interior novel devoted to the notion of womanhood as a composite construction made up of myriad stories and influences.

A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25701-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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