Mon
Mar 6 2017 4:30pm

Review: The Devil’s Bible by Dana Chamblee Carpenter

The Devil's Bible by Dana Chamblee Carpenter is the 2nd book in the Bohemian Gospel series (available March 7, 2017).

Dana Chamblee Carpenter’s story begins in Avignon in the year 1236. A dying woman has given birth to a baby girl, which is not what the father was hoping for, and he uses “his claws” to rip the attending doctor’s throat from his body. As the sawbones realizes—a little too late—that this is his last house call, a nurse manages to whisk the infant to safety.

This girl—this disappointment—would live. For now. He needed to turn his thoughts toward his next conquest—the one that would profit him a son. He took the edge of his cloak and pulled it over his shoulder, folding himself into the blackness of the night.

Cowering in the deeper dark of a bend in the alley not far past the still gaping door, the nurse laid her face gently against the baby’s head, silently pleading: Don’t make a sound. Be quiet. Quiet as a little mouse.

I’ve always wondered about fictional characters with the coveted “gift” of immortality: when do the centuries take their toll? How much personal loss can an immortal endure before they crumble? It’s been answered recently in an episode of Doctor Who with a peasant girl given perpetual life. At first, she’s joyously happy, then, as the centuries spin around her in a clever rolodex of historical happenings, a deep sadness overtakes her features.

See also: Doctor Who: The Greatest Mystery and Horror Tales (2005-2015)

Mouse is a bit like that, too. She has withdrawn, keeping to herself. Under the name Dr. Emma Nicholas, she does her best to live the life of a university professor, shying away from the limelight. For seven hundred years, she has been hiding from her father. But it all comes to a head when former student Jack Gray is on a tour to promote his book on the Codex Gigas, more popularly known as the Devil’s Bible.

After a fast read of Gray's work, Mouse thinks it’s crap. Curious as to whether he is a trap, she asks him who is funding his book tour. When he doesn’t say, Mouse demands that he reveal who’s banking him. Well, it seems she has an unusual superpower, if you will, because he goes all trance-like, repeatedly stating, “I don’t know who my benefactor is.”

She orders him to stop, which immediately snaps him back awake. She’s remorseful about slipping up and using her talent in that way, as it reminds her of when her love was near death and, out of mercy, she set him free—but with an enormous consequence:

“Go now,” she had told him. “Die,” she said, the command meant as an act of mercy for him alone.

But they all had. Every soldier on that battlefield, dead. Ten thousand souls.

In her grief, she had lost control and her power had spilled out, killing every living thing around her. She’d lost everything that day. Ottakar. Her son. Her humanity.

Every day since, for seven hundred years, Mouse had paid penance for that moment. She supposed some would envy her immortality, but to Mouse it was the worst of her father’s inheritance.

Damn! I can see why she has been keeping that demigod touch under wraps. Imagine in this technical age: you could wipe out a million people, give or take, if you told one to kick the bucket on television or Facebook. Even so, it’s remarkable she hasn’t accidentally used these powers in almost a millennium. Eventually, her father becomes wise to her, so the race is on to get to the Devil’s Bible before her evil old man does because something as major as the world’s fate is at stake.

A strong protagonist in a swift-moving novel that zips to Rome and Prague with several unexpected detours along the way.

Check out David Cranmer's review of Zodiac by Sam Wilson!

 

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David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

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