A Satan Carol by Alan Steven Kessler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Alan Steven Kessler's "A Satan Carol" is a fictional story with some basis on Christian religious beliefs. I've found it to be an enjoyable spiritual horror story that gives insight into why bad things happen to good people, why good things happen to bad people, and where God is during all this.
The main character is God's first born child, Satan, who fell from grace. Jesus is his younger brother who has their father's favor. Satan wants to win God's love back by create his own "world" called Shinyland 8 where he is God so his father will acknowledge him for once. After all, he would have created his world with no help, it wasn't given to him like Jesus' world was given to Jesus. To carry out his plan he knew he would have to secure "The Golden Soul" for his son Pal who lives in Shinyland 7 (another one of Satan's worlds) and in medical need.
The story starts off in Ireland in 1848 during the Great Famine, where Satan is sure he will secure the "Golden Soul" for his son. However even being Satan doesn't make it a sure thing because the soul wasn't given to Pal. Satan then puts another plan in place to once again secure this soul. Not because he cared deeply for Pal or his parental concern for his son but because it was crucial for Pal to have this soul so he can heal himself and put Satan's plan into place of being the God of Shinyland 8. Spreading his evil to get what he wants to the end of the story, a hundred and eighty years later in Massachusetts.
I found the chapters are well organized as they introduce new people or new events keeping with the time from past toward present day. I did have a bit of problem connecting the first chapter with the others however at the end it became very clear how they are related. I also had a bit of a time stomaching some of the scenes. I found them quite cruel and grotesque from watching the child dying from starvation while telling him he will be dead soon to the eating of fried rat's fetuses. I sure wouldn't recommend reading this while eating which also means that Mr. Kessler did achieve his goal in excellence in scene description.
Torture, torment, hallucinations, and visions are throughout the story. After all, this is a story about Satan. I found I wondered if the hallucination was just that or if the person really was dreaming or seeing it for real. Then again, so did the character. Some characters were even convinced they were going mad. If it wasn't made clear which one it was at the time I read it, it becomes clear shortly after so I was never really lost or confused for long.
Satan would stop at nothing to get what he wants but even he had rules to go by. He couldn't force man into doing what he wanted since man had freewill. He can bribe, promise, and blackmail all he wanted but the choice was up to man to accept or reject and he found plenty to accept. No surprise there but just when I thought I knew where this story was going and what was coming next, a twist. I found the ending a total surprise.
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