Obadiah Demurral is the local parson, godless and cruel. Intent on his own power, he owns all the land around and extorts cruel taxes from the parishioners, branding them as his slaves and setting them to work mining alum shale when they cannot pay. Raphah is a young man who has travelled from Africa to recover the Keruvim, a holy relic stolen from his people’s temple where they worship Riathamus, the One True God. His faith in God is unshakeable and he heals people by laying hands on them in God’s name. Thomas and Kate are two local youngsters who become involved with Raphah and undertake to help him recover the Keruvim and stop Demurral. Friends from childhood, they grow closer over the course of the story to the point where they are described as “an Adam and an Eve” by the devil when outlining his plans for the overthrow of God.
The author is throwing a lot into the pot during this story: alien warriors, sea creatures, possessing demons, a wicca man, a friendly family of Boggles, dark creatures in the forest, God and his angels, the devil and his. I just wonder whether he might not have overdone it. Having said that, the narrative is fairly straightforward, moving from one point of view to another, something which weakens the tension rather but which makes it simpler to understand.
Despite the names, Raphah’s Riathamus is clearly the Christian God and Demurral’s Pyratheon is just as clearly the devil. Jesus Christ appears twice to Thomas in a vision to give him guidance and strength and then once to all three youngsters in person in the forest, a meeting which leads them to accept the help of Raphael the archangel when they reach Whitby. The devil appears in person towards the end of the book, taking the form of a handsome man. The ending, where the devil believes he has overthrown God by taking possession of the Keruvim from Raphah becomes even more confusing when Raphael re-enters and tells him that his time has not yet come.
Tim Golden is a computer programmer living in London. He is also the editor of the Good-to-Read website.