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One October evening, Currumbin Valley, Australia, Denise Russo utters a prayer, “God, please help me. Someone, anyone, please help!”, when the paramedics fail to revive three-year-old Siobhan. A man in a fedora hat saves the day. If you’ve been raised in a religious family, the scene will exhort a myriad of emotions and questions. Are we not told to be mindful of our words when we pray? Do we pray to God or just anyone? Is it possible that the devil answers prayers? You’d better believe it. The devil slips in and gives Denise what God refuses to.
Nine months later, on her 28th birthday, blurred and blinded by greed, two friends, two acquaintances and her fiancé conspire to steal her lottery winning ticket. The plan goes wrong and to cover up their betrayal they leave her for dead. Denise survives, but she is paralyzed. The man in the fedora hat who we discover is the Devil materializes in her room and authenticates her suspicions. The constant re-appearance of the Devil can be interpreted in different ways. If you put your spiritual gears on, everything you learned about the Devil when you were young will resurface. I was tempted to dissect every encounter Denise had with the Devil into a sermon.
Any deal you make with the Devil is suspect. Denise should have known better. (Even after Denise recovers, her reaction indicates she wasn’t sure if he would honor the deal). Paralyzed and unable to speak, the Devil is the only being that Denise can communicate with. He knowingly deceives her into believing that Simon, her ex, betrayed her too. A visit from her disloyal fiancé and best friend cement her “need” and I put that loosely because if she wanted to protect her daughter, her life was a small price to pay than making a deal with the Devil. Her mother, Edith is in debt with her medical bills.
The people we love will do anything to keep us alive and would never regret it. I know I wouldn’t. I am not convinced that Denise wanted revenge; it was merely a suggestion from the Devil. For six souls or the life of her daughter, the Devil promises her life and health back. Down the line, we learn that the sixth person she killed was the Devil(we know he still lives), Simon died on the day of the betrayal. Something she would have known, if she could only speak, by asking her mother.
Denise sleeps with the Devil, literally and produces a child named Jess. A succession of occurrences leads to Father Shem attempting to kill Jess. This is when Denise is told to stay away from her family because Siobhan’s life is in danger. Denise changes her name to Sister Benedictine. And later she commits suicide.This is where the author begins the story with Siobhan searching for answers. The scenes I highlighted above are narrated in a memoir that Denise left for Siobhan.
Sigh! This is where it gets tedious.
I wanted to give The Devil’s Prayer 5 stars but I just couldn’t. I truly enjoyed at least more than half of the book. After, I busted my brains out trying to follow what was happening. There was just too much information to process. I don’t know if the author could have done a better job of relaying that wealth of knowledge to us. We have manuscripts and stories about the church drawn out beautifully; I felt that the book was a sharp commentary and analysis from the author on mysticism tied to religion, but it is not clear enough who is who and why we should care about them in the whole context of the story.Sorry.
I appreciate Luke Gracias for making me dig deeper into occultism for my self-knowledge.