With the recent end of Ramadan and now the end of Immigrant Heritage Month I thought this would be a good pickup. The author also recently wrote up a piece in 'The Wall Street Journal' (which appears to have been adapted from the book) so that spurred me on to finally knock this off my reading list.
Author Rehman is a Pakistani who arrived in the United States after her arranged marriage. She navigates the culture, the language, the norms and culture how and walks the reader though her journey to how she came to be the person writing this book. Meeting her husband, the actual marriage, moving to New York, raising their two sons and learning to fit in a place where there were few people like them to the modern day including 9/11, her changes in politics and how life events eventually took her and her husband to Saudi Arabia and then back to the US.
Initially it was interesting to read how her arranged marriage was well, arranged. I know Muslims who had similar experiences (although not quite as "arranged" by the parents in the sense they had more freedom to chat/email/phone/see the candidate in person before deciding). After awhile it dragged a bit, though and I didn't need to know ALL of the details of the courtship and customs
At first I thought it was me being familiar with the concept already but that permeated throughout the book. Her story was interesting but sometimes we'd get into the real nitty gritty of say what it was like for her to return to say, for example, fasting for Ramadan after years of not doing so or educating her two sons about Islam and the Quran, etc. The author tends to shift time periods of her past to the "present" day and that somewhat frustrated me. I would have preferred a more linear approach.
Still, overall I thought it was interesting. Books that are overly heavy on religion or have religion as a major topic can be a tossup for me. This was an enjoyable read but at the same time it was best I borrowed it from the library and that WSJ piece might have been enough if I couldn't access this book. But if you really want to read it, it's not terrible and for the right person it might be a great read.
A woman has been horrible betrayed by trusted friends, so in order to seek revenge she concludes a pact with the devil.Well, the first half of the book is quick paced ( and although the descriptions and details of the revenge killings are unnecessary gory and after the second killing have lost all their necessity) it reads well, barring numerous platitudes such as " more people have died in the name of religion than any other disease ".And then, not only is the devil implicated but also a lot of ( not always accurate ) historical facts and myths.In this case the Nag Hammadi codices, a 13th century Benedictine manuscript, red monks and to top it off, climate change is brought into the whole lot.The writing doesn't get any better and frankly it feels as if the emphasis lies on writing a blockbuster. And the end is a complete disaster, as a matter of fact,there is no"end".
This book is often compared to Dan Brown 's work, but unfortunately it has the same flaws and pluses.Not very well written, dubious historical data, a certain artificial flavour and yes, it is fast paced, horror and mystery merge and it is an easy read. But just not good enough....
I don’t feel like the blurb for The Devil’s Prayer does it justice. But I also think it would be really hard to do a blurb that really did tell you what this book was about. Some of the book is fairly typical fare. Deals with the devil, prophecies, and the possible end of the world. Then there’s the historical fiction aspect of it. Which, if you’re someone into religious history, provides enough actual facts to make you happy. For the horror hounds, there’s some of that too, around the second quarter. So, there’s obviously a lot going on.
The first three-quarters of The Devil’s Prayer were awesome. There was the mystery, the horror, the clues all coming together. We got the beginnings of an answer to a question that was asked early on. Once I really sat down to concentrate on the book, I read through 50 percent of it in one night. And the last quarter was good, too. But in a very different way. Unfortunately, the last quarter doesn’t really match with the first three in any way other than covering the relevant subject matter.
It felt like Luke Gracias got almost done with the book, and then decided to turn it into a history paper at the end. The material he covered was fascinating, and stuff I’d definitely look up in my free time when I was in the mood for it. However, when I’m three-quarters of the way through a fiction book, I’m not in the mood to come to a full stop for a preachy, hand-holding history lesson. My interest in what I was reading swiftly fizzled. Instead of getting the climax and story resolution I was hoping for, I was suddenly just hoping it would end soon.
The way The Devil’s Prayer is told is a bit flip-floppy. It’s told journal-style, interspersed with present-day action. My one problem with journal style – and I’ve had this thought with a couple other books – is that it feels unrealistic. No one is going to be as detailed in their journals about every little interaction as they are in these types of books. (And I know this is partially on me, for not being able to completely suspend reality, but it bothers me.) I was able to push it aside, for the most part, and just enjoy what I was reading. Luke Gracias does a good job of giving us a character we can care about in Denise Russo, even if we know she’s already dead when we start to get to know her. Siobhan is pretty much just an audience substitute in this book.
Overall, The Devil’s Prayer isn’t a bad read by any means. But it’s not exactly the smoothest read with the way it ends. Luke Gracias is talented, though, and obviously a religious history enthusiast. I think we’ll see some great work from him in the future. Also, I would be shocked if The Devil’s Prayer doesn’t have a sequel already being written. The book ends, if not exactly on a cliffhanger, without a feeling of plot resolution.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the author for review consideration.