My interest has always been piqued by the story of Judas Iscariot. His fall from place at Jesus’s side to the ultimate betrayer always made me wonder why Jesus would have picked him as one of the twelve and here in Roy Bright’s story we get a pretty great theory!
Judas is the plaything of the Angelic Host, sent out on missions to atone for his actions in that garden two millennia ago. His existence is limited and curtailed despite being gifted (Cursed) with eternal life and a resurrection power rivalled only by Lazarus and our Lord Jesus Christ himself!
A grotty tramp when we meet him, he is drafted in on a mission that will have ramifications for the whole of humanity, Judas is tasked with looking after a six year old child who is the vessel of Good in the age old battle between The creator and Lucifer.
The premise is simple and often used. Vulnerable child is the key who must be protected by the powerfully endowed anti Hero who is changed and softened in the process, but I can happily report that it is written in such a way as to keep the reading alongside them.
The book cleverly weaves the current peril of a city under siege by Demonic forces tasked to do anything to stop a little girl come into her birthright, with back story about Judas, his choice, his reasoning and the outcome on that day when he became The Betrayer and we come away thinking Judas is perhaps too much maligned (at least in Mr Bright’s telling).
There is a core group of heroes who join Judas in his quest to protect the frightened little girl Charlotte, who is beautifully betrayed as an innocent destined for massive things, balancing youthful faith against the growing God Given Power within her that makes her more influential than any of her self appointed protectors .
Rounding out the group are Gary, An intuitive police detective whose acceptance of the evidence of his eyes whilst his mind rails is admirable and a prostitute. Both happen across Judas and a demon foe battling it out and become integral the plan and the eventual confrontation with Lucifer the Morningstar himself.
The quest had just the merest whiff of the quartet in Stephen King’s Dark Tower stories. Let me be clear this is an entirely different plot, but the immediacy of my bonding with them as a team was akin to when I first read King’s epic series.
The demon foes here are wonderfully oily and wicked and I found the whole idea of them preferring form as Japanese Business men in a City High rise such a fun idea. Lucifer himself (like all GREAT villains) prefers to speak like a smarmy arrogant Englishman so the interjections are peppered with one liners.
This is a fast paced book, the flashbacks into the past are not jarring to that narrative flow and are necessary to remind us that this gruff slogger is in fact thousands of years old and his jadedness is not borne of bad humour, but of millennia of inertia with brief spasms of useful action and so his gradual resurrection of spirit is just as important as his bodily repairs or his relic infused Japanese Blades.
With Wily Priests and Arch Angels rounding out the character list, this was an exciting and fun romp with biblical undertones that are satisfying to the faithful but not cloying or off-putting to those who do not believe.
I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book!