Review: The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias

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So, dear readers, here comes my very negative review of The Devil’s Prayer, as promised in my last post. I’ve tried to find some positives within the story, but honestly, its been a struggle.

The book is written out of sequence, beginning with the present day; initially it’s about the story of a silent nun breaking into a concealed room hidden deep within a monastry whilst some weird creepy ritual goes on outside. This first part (alas – it only lasts a few chapters) reads a bit like a Dan Brown novel and immediately had me gripped. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.

The next part of the book was written as a letter being read by the nun’s daughter, which alternated between the present day (when the daughter was reading it) and the past (when the letter was obviously set). The letter explained the events that led up to the nun abandoning her family, joining a convent and trying to track down some centuries old religious documents. Unlike a Dan Brown book, there was no attempt at plausibility when the reason for this was revealed. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. I won’t say too much in case you’re some kind of masochist who actually still wants to read this book, but it really is a stupid premise.

Anyway, the book then goes on to explain that the quest was never completed and in order to save the world, the daughter must pick up where her mother left off. Which she does. Without question.

Cue an awful lot of pointless travel around Europe while the daughter continues to read what her mother had been up to. She’s being chased by some evil monks (all wearing bright red robes, luckily. I mean, surely they would have disguised themselves? Anyway…) so she literally arrives in one place, reads a bit of the letter, a monk turns up, she gets on a train, they follow, she goes somewhere else…pointless.

The story ends completely arbitrarily after literally nothing is resolved and it looks like the whole thing was a waste of time. I couldn’t believe that the story just stopped in the way it did. I mean, I was thankful that it was over, but it made no sense. Is there a sequel? (please God don’t let there be a sequel).  

Apart from the storyline, there were many, many other things that I disliked about the Devil’s Prayer. It’s incredibly simplistically written and the grammer is terrible; really clunky and awkward. I think that the book has either been edited by a child or the author simply bypassed this stage altogether. It looks like it hasn’t been proof read either – at one point something is described as spartan but it’s written ‘Spartan’ (noun) like the inhabitants of Sparta.

The characters are either completely, unequivicably good or downright evil. There are no shades of grey. Everything is completely black and white. If someone is jealous, they say ‘I always hated you, with your perfect life’. If they’re rich (female) they buy designer clothes and handbags. If they are rich (male) they have a bright red sports car. If they’re good, they fail to notice these glaringly obvious, stereotypical signals of wealth and struggle on to pay the medical bills, never once questioning whether anyone could help them out. At one point, the devil appears and just in case you were in any doubt, utters the phrase ‘Hello? I am the devil’. Aaaargh! Quite why he is talking like a California Valley girl is anyone’s guess.

The story itself, apart from being utterly unbelievable, is terribly written. It’s obvious what has basically happened from the beginning (you’re literally given this information as a recollection) and the only vaguely intriguing part is trying to work out which of the poorly outlined characters were responsible for which bit. You know they’re all in it together and you know why, so this held little interest for me. This endless interrogation of each character took the vast majority of the book, and was extremely tedious.

There were also huge, gaping, obvious holes in the story as it emerged. The main character massively implicates herself in various crime scenes; her car is found by the police, she has visible marks on her body like she’s been in a fight, a woman matching her description is seen, the scenes involve all of her friends – but the police just keep confirming that it can’t be her because she’s a bed bound quadraplegic. Plausible, you might think – until the next day when she makes a miraculous recovery and starts walking around as though nothing has happened and the police still don’t think to question her (or, you know, arrest her immediately).      

There are other, appalling incidents in the book that are frankly ridiculous – the main character appears to have been chosen by the devil for no discernible reason, she has consensual sex the day after she is brutally raped, she decides that someone she has known forever is the love of her life just because she sees some good in him. Nonsense.

So, just in case you think I’ve been overly harsh, I’d like to finish with my favourite quote from the book, which I think encapsulates all of my criticisms quite nicely:

“Standing next to the turtles on the beach…was a green dragon, which looked a lot like a T-Rex.”

I thank you.

Overall rating: 4/10

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!

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