Book Review: The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias

Cover via Goodreads
Cover via Goodreads

First and foremost, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to NetGalley, the author, and Australian eBook Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest, unbiased review. Second, before I delve into my thoughts on this novel, I would like to issue a disclaimer for prospective readers: The Devil’s Prayer contains scenes and subjects that may serve as a trigger for some readers. There is rape, there is brutal murder, and there are drugs, though the latter is probably the least heavily represented in the book. The Devil’s Prayer is considered to be a horror novel, and these nightmarish topics are fairly common within this genre.

My thanks and disclaimer aside, I find myself involved in an odd sort of love/hate relationship with The Devil’s Prayer. It has a lot of great moments, but it also has a lot of moments that are lacking. There are times when the story is fast paced and attention grabbing and there are times when a reader feels that they might have to just slog through it. There is little to no depth to the characters, and though the summary of the book introduces us to Siobhan Russo as the main character, she is, most decidedly, an extremely minor appearance.

Our main character is actually the dead nun. Most of the book is told in the form of a diary, written by Denise Russo in the wake of discovering she has made a pact with the Devil and born his spawn into the world. How she gets to that point is, by far, the most entertaining part of The Devil’s Prayer. I also feel it is the most well-written portion of the book: those parts where Siobhan is star and the story is written in third-person are extremely difficult to get through in comparison and feel largely forced and unnatural.

The Devil’s Prayer‘s plot, on the other hand, is a bit more solid and direct. Denise has given birth to the Devil’s child, and the Devil’s child is here to usher in the apocalypse, only it is painstakingly clear that said child has no clue what her purpose is. In fact, that child in no way behaves as if she is the Chosen One meant to bring Armageddon. She could be written out of the book, given how minor of a role she plays in the story – could being the operative word, since she only exists to… well, to exist. If she didn’t exist, there’d be no story! The Devil’s Prayer spends most of its time focusing on Denise’s life, before her pact and shortly after. We are given very little to no reason as to why things happen the way they do, and must understand that they simply do. Siobhan’s need to flee, for example, seems rather abrupt and makes little sense even in conclusion.

It is also revealed that it is, quite frankly, too late for anything to be done about the Devil’s child, while simultaneously stating that there is only one way to save the world. That one way does involve Siobhan, but we are left with her acknowledgment of needing to take up her mother’s mantle and nothing more. This is brought to light way too late in the book, and I honestly felt that the story could have gone on for some time yet. There is no closure to the story at all: it is open-ended, much in the same way that many low-rating horror movies are. In fact, The Devil’s Prayer reads like those movies: it has an interesting plot, just enough facts to draw a reader curious about the occult in, and then falls flat in the end.

Whenever I read a book with the intent to review it, there are a lot of things I look out for. I look at its plot, its characters, the writing style, and its flow the most, and as seen in my ratings, I base the amount of stars a book receives on these four factors. I also look at other reviews to see what stood out to my fellow readers. The Devil’s Prayer was no exception to this process, which begs the question of whether or not I may have received an older edition of the book. I say this because I found several errors that normally are taken care of during the revision process. These errors made it a bit more difficult than I had intended to get into the book. In one instance, Denise refers to one of her daughters as her “precocious child”, whereas I felt the world “precious” was probably intended. There are, undoubtedly, some wonderful quotes to be read in this book, and there is definitely much to be taken away from it. While I found The Devil’s Prayer to be an entertaining read, I do feel it could benefit (assuming that I did receive a current edition) from another set of eyes to edit it. With these minor errors and occasionally repeating lines taken care of, I feel it would be a much smoother read.

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