I was recently privileged to host author Tosca Lee here for an interview. (You may read that interview here). Today, after a long hiatus, I’m bringing you a random book review: Ms. Lee’s Demon: a Memoir.
Demon was published some five years ago (and was subsequently rereleased in 2010), but is new to me. It has been–rightly so–compared to Lewis’s classic Screwtape Letters. As apt as that comparison is, as the books cover similar thematic ground, I feel it in some ways misses the mark.
What do I mean?
If you know the story of Screwtape, you know it’s a book comprised of a series of letters from a senior demon (Screwtape) to a junior tempter, Wormwood (his nephew), with advice on how best to lead “the Patient” (a human) away from God. Ms. Lee’s approach eliminates the middleman–the “Wormwood,” if you will–and poses the question:
What if “Screwtape” showed up in person?. How would the “Patient” react? Would he, dare I say, perhaps be entranced?
And that is exactly what happens: Lucian (the “Screwtape” figure here) makes an appointment to meet with Clay, a man recently divorced, onr who works for a midlist publisher, and who has failed as a novelist. I don’t want to give anything of this delicious novel away, but suffice it to say that Clay is, despite solid proofs of who Lucian is, entranced, and agrees to tell Lucian’s story.
Which is really Clay’s story (and ours). More I can’t say.
I’ve given you the bare bones there above, but in brief:
Ms. Lee has a strong sense of place–one feels as if one is in Boston (where the story takes place). The main characters of Clay, and Lucian, do indeed feel like a real person and/or demon, respectively, and their motivations are solidly believable. (A note on this: Ms. Lee, as Lewis before her, doesn’t set out to prove the supernatural: it just is. She takes it for granted from the outset. As a Christian myself I do as well, but as the book is true and consistent to its own inner laws, I don’t feel like a non-believer would have any trouble willingly suspending their disbelief. And indeed emerge on the other side maybe reconsidering things. That said, the book’s primary purpose is not as a polemic, but a work of art.
And it delivers.
The book is that well written.
Supporting characters feel like real people, and the broken relationships depicted feel suitably broken. Nothing feels forced, fake, or contrived. Her descriptions are lush without bogging down the story, and her prose crackles with an electric tension from first page to last.
Do yourself a favor, and read Demon: a Memoir.
This has been a “random” review. Come back for more in the coming weeks.
Have you read Demon, Ms. Lee’s book, Havah, or either of the Books of Mortals she’s working on with Ted Dekker, Forbidden, or Mortal? What did you think?
Have you read any other books lately?
Share in the comments!