If a man bargained his soul to the Devil in order to become a successful author, what kind of stories would the man write? If a woman risked everything to read the man’s book, what would she find out? If a third man knew the answers to the previous two questions, what would be revealed?
The new book, Thirteen Fiendish Fables: A Novel by Stephen Schmoyer, attempts to tackle these three propositions. At times tragic, at times humorous, this unusual book explores the bizarre menagerie of what doesn’t exist, but what could exist according to human beliefs and human imagination. The scenes and tales take place within the panorama of Heaven, in Hell, in some in-between places, and in both fantasy and reality.
In many ways the novel is one of contradictions, experimentation, and upended expectations. Hell is shown to dispense mercy and allow for love. Heaven is portrayed as a place of sometimes monstrous atrocities all in the name of salvation. The in-between places are, well, in-between. And reality is reality and fantasy is fantasy, or is it? Most of all, this is a book of patience, waiting to be read by anyone willing to embrace complexity.