I received a free copy of The Devil's Prayer via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The first thing I did on opening this ebook was to change the publisher's font. I hate when a book force changes my default preferred font to that of the publisher. The publisher's font was very small and very faint and not pleasant at all to read. Please don't do that!
There were both positive and negative aspects to this book. I did enjoy it but at times I found my attention wandering. The plot was good and appealed very much to my tastes, but there were sections that I thought rather tedious and I found myself starting to skim what felt like unnecessary heavy info dumps. The author went into so much detail at times in regards to religious practices, scripts, history etc that I got bored. Especially nearer the end of the book where it began to feel more religious history textbook than fiction.
The writing style took some getting used to. In the beginning it felt very abrupt and factual, telling instead of showing, and it had a non-fiction feel to it. The writing and dialogue did improve and started to flow better once it moved to the nun's story.
I can't say that I could relate to Siobhan's character at all. According to the blurb, she's the main character but she has no depth or substance, and I found her character very flat and unappealing. She makes very small minor appearances between the larger sections that tell her mother's story. In fact, her telling her mother's story is the only reason she's in the book at all. I preferred her mother's story, it was much more pleasant to read, nicer written, had a better flow, and the dialogue was a lot more natural. The mother's character was way more fleshed out and detailed and she stood out more as a main character than the actual main character herself. In fact, I would have enjoyed the book a lot more without Siobhan's character interrupting the flow and enjoyment of her mother's story.
I also felt that certain things were very repetitive. In the opening chapters, the author seemed insistent in reminding me way too often that the city was called Zamora. I stopped highlighting at a count of 19. There were also little niggly things that stood out to me. For instance:
- A wake is not a wake when there is no body, it's a memorial service.
- Paramedics after resuscitating a girl who's heart stopped for a
prolonged period due to drowning do not just pack up and leave, they take her
straight to a hospital to get checked out.
- Policemen are not permitted or qualified, under any circumstances, to perform any
kind of medical tests on someone.
- All the different places had such long names and similar to the above example of the
overuse of Zamora, they too seemed to be overused. For instance, the convent was
called Cistercia Monasterio de Santa Maria de Moreruela and there were parts like
"The hotel receptionist handed her a small pamphlet that referred her to a small minibus, which ran twice daily to the ruins of the old Cistercia Monasterio de Santa Maria de Moreruela, some four kilometres from the small town of Grabja Moreruela. Siobhan read in the pamphlet that the origins of the Cistercia Monasterio de Santa Maria de Moreruela were obscure.."
I have to admit I got fed up reading these long names constantly. We know it's a convent, the author tells us so, so why not just tell us the name once and then just substitute the name with convent. Especially when using it so close together.
I'm assuming there is going to be another book to follow this one as there is no conclusion to the story. Why is Siobhan being pursued by the monks? What exactly is the devil's prayer? And what, if anything, is Siobhan expected to do with this knowledge she's learned? There has to be more because the book stops mid-story without any answers to these questions, and there has to be a reason for Siobhan being present in the book other than just reading her mother's story.
Despite the problems and niggles mentioned above, the actual premise and the bare bones of the story were good and I did really enjoy the nun's story. I would probably read more should there be another book in order to get some answers for the questions I'm left with.