Review: Age of Satan / Author: James Lovegrove / Publisher: Solaris Books / Release Date: Out Now
There is a bit of a tendency for those seeking to carve a niche in genre fiction to take a noun and shove the word punk on the end, to denote some sort of sense of dystopia or rebellion. This very seldom works, but when it does, it really takes off. James Lovegrove calls his series of books about uncaring gods in the modern world 'godpunk', and Age of Satan seems to be a manifesto for this infant genre, underlining the innate tragedy of the relationship between men and the divine.
Previous books in the series (such as Age of Voodoo) tend to be accessible but multi-layered adventure romps where the supernatural elements add a sense of despair and terror to the proceedings. Age of Satan takes a different route; it’s a story of man hounded by the devil, and is a genuinely haunting piece. There’s no horde of monsters or superhuman demigods here; this is a tale that tracks one man’s struggle with an uncaring world where darkness lies in every corner. It’s a remarkable and compelling read with some utterly creepy moments that work startlingly well.
It also works brilliantly as a commentary on modern Britain, and though the connection between politics and the Lord of Darkness is at best a cliché, Lovegrove shows an even and steady hand here, and straddles the line between satire and terror extremely well. We come to care about the protagonist, and this feeling stays all the way through, even to the end. A couple of the darker scenes are slightly overplayed, and it does suffer from the usual lag in length that novellas tend to have. However, it is a very quick and enjoyable read.
This novella is currently available as an e-book; for those of you who prefer something you can put on the shelf, you will have to wait until it appears in the Age of Godpunk novella collection later this year.