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A Satan Carol by Alan Steven Kessler

Consider a Satan who is less of an incarnation of evil unto itself and more a  victim of his situation. Satan was the favored one until Jesus came along, and he has never gotten over the change in his circumstance. Like any child who has been neglected, Satan has taken to…acting out. He has fathered a child to act as his prophet, but his child has no soul and Satan must manipulate within the rules of free will to lure a precious Golden Soul to his son.

I am generally not a fan of overtly religious works, but there was something utterly fascinating about Kessler’s take on Satan. Absentmindedly cruel and vulgar, yes. But it was a far cry from indiscriminate evil. There was a motivation behind Satan’s actions, a need to be noticed and recognized and appreciated that made him a more palatable character.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but it is well worth the effort as Kessler deftly pulls them all together. There are no loose ends leaving a reader dissatisfied-instead I was inclined to raise a glass in appreciation as characters I had forgotten about, or had simply written off as a one-time mention, came back into play in well thought out ways.

Satan is the great manipulator of the book, acting behind the scenes to play human off of human so as to be still working within the rules of free will to get the results he wants. It turned the book into a well thought out, oft times horrifying, look at human nature and motivation. It is not always a comfortable book, but it is an honest one.