Lucifer’s Angel by R.W.K. Clark is a mystery suspense novel which relates the story of Sarah Hathaway, a teen from the town of Paradise, who, through a series of tragic events, comes to experience a serious crisis of faith. The only child of religious parents, Sarah has been brought up into the church, and until now has had a firm hold on her beliefs. Unfortunately, her adolescent mind struggles to come to grips with the losses which, to her, seem like grave injustices brought on directly from an uncaring God.
The plot focuses on what Sarah does to deal with her negative emotions and anger toward the God she is angry at. As a way to get back at Him and take back control of her own life, she begins to put her trust in witchcraft by reading books and dabbling in the arts a bit. The problem is, Sarah has no idea what she is doing, or what kind of forces are actually involved with this, and her lack of knowledge gets her into more trouble than she ever could have hoped for. Unbeknownst to her, there are others who practice the craft who are influencing, and somewhat controlling, every bad thing that is happened, and they have done this with a very diabolical purpose.
Paradise is an idyllic small town which is teeming with Christians; their entire lives revolve around the church, although few of the families there are exceptions. Everyone in Sarah’s life is from the church, from her family and the family of her best friend, to the pastor and his wife, her grandmother, and even the mailman. Other main characters in the book include her parents, Amelia and Kent, her grandmother, Emma Holt, Pastor Paul Bailey and his wife Miriam, her best friend, Michelle Karas, and her new love interest, Ryan Morris, the new kid in town. Basically, after losing several of those she cares about the most and turning from the faith, Sarah slowly begins to realize that something horrible is at work, and she races against time with the help of church secretary, Laura McCain, to stop the terrible things that have been put into play.
Some of the best parts of this book actually revolve around witchcraft, though not in a positive way. For instance, after Sarah is bullied, she casts a spell of revenge on her attacker; this is a bit satisfying for the reader. Some of the other spells and scenes are very intense as well, and this makes for very good, satisfying reading. Clark is good at putting in a bit of confusion here and there to keep you turning pages, and he does this well in this book, which is actually one of my favorite things about it; the element of shock and surprise is wonderful.
The worst part would be the very end, which I will obviously not break down here. What can be said is that this ending was necessary for Clark to drive the point of the book home. Readers may be disappointed, but I think that when considering the book as a whole, the end also makes the book as good as it really is. It isn’t that the ending is ‘bad’, per se, but it is tragic in an all-around sense, but this is what happens when you play with fire.
I would say that the main lesson of the book is basically not to toy around with things you are ignorant of. Sarah does this for comfort and strength, but her lack of understanding about what she is doing is her undoing. There is also a very painful lesson about others not always being who they appear to be; the things that people will do to other people for personal gain is atrocious, and most of the time this happens at the hands of those we have loved and trusted our entire lives. It is sad and painful, but true, nonetheless, and Sarah suffers terribly for not having a firm grasp on this aspect of reality.
Another good point that I got out of the pages was that everyone suffers pain and hardship. While all of us must grieve and go through injustice, no one can presume they are so important that they should be the exception to the normal course and circumstances of life. All we can do is steady ourselves and press through. Sarah essentially has an emotional temper tantrum regarding her losses, and turning to witchcraft is how that manifests. Her desire to ‘play God’ in her own life ultimately made the bed of nails that she is forced to lie in, regardless of any change of heart she experiences along the way.
It is hard to choose a ‘favorite’ character from this book. If I had to, I would say it was Sarah, because I understand her pain. But her attitude and reactions to that pain make it difficult to come to terms with the understanding I have for her. Otherwise, this is a story which is full of ‘not knowing who can be trusted’ type scenarios. It is best not to try to pick a favorite.
Clark has written about witches before in his DeSai Trilogy. This story, however, it is extremely different. There are no vampires running around, and there is no intense apocalypse taking place. This book is much more down to Earth, even bordering on realistic. In this sense, ‘Lucifer’s Angel’ is a superior tale, but only in that way. It stands on its own two feet, demonstrating somber lessons and pain without veering into the unbelievable.
I would recommend this to any fiction lover. Sarah is a highly relatable character who does, really, what anyone is capable of considering and acting on in her position, and that’s what makes this book so good. For anyone who enjoys a suspense story that will make you think, as well as surprise you from beginning to end, this is the ideal story for you.