I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan

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I, Lucifer by Glen DuncanI, Lucifer by Glen Duncan

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Prince of Darkness has been given one last shot at redemption, provided he can live out a reasonably blameless life on earth. Highly sceptical, naturally, the Old Dealmaker negotiates a trial period – a summer holiday in a human body, with all the delights of the flesh.

The body, however, turns out to be that of Declan Gunn, a depressed writer living in Clerkenwell, interrupted in his bath mid-suicide. Ever the opportunist, and with his main scheme bubbling in the background, Luce takes the chance to tap out a few thoughts – to straighten the biblical record, to celebrate his favourite achievements, to let us know just what it’s like being him.

Neither living nor explaining turns out to be as easy as it looks. Beset by distractions, miscalculations and all the natural shocks that flesh is heir to, the Father of Lies slowly begins to learn what it’s like being us.

I, Lucifer.

The first page really drew my attention with eloquent descriptions of how much pain Lucifer is always in. That’s a surefire way to get my attention. It seemed really morbid an introduction and if that was anything to go by I’d get my fill of disgusting and uncomfortable things.

For the record I did. I even got my fill of angelic things when Lucifer gets approached by Gabriel to live out the life of a suicidal writer named Declan Gunn for one month in exchange for redemption. The interaction between Gabriel and Lucifer is a gratifying one which extends to all angelic brethren that he comes into contact with—once while on his way to rape and murder a random woman he had followed home after assuming Gunn’s life. Any time an angel came onscreen I pretty much rejoiced because the tension was so raw and even despite Lucifer’s being so very English I reveled in the coarse emotions. Also Lucifer’s striking reaction to his discarnate pain fed my nasty craving.

Once Lucifer is given a guideline or two that include the ambiguous terms of “[behaving] within parameters that will leave Gunn’s liberty intact should his body be returned to him,” he goes about more innocuous behavior that rings more true to the tune of reckless than evil. But hey what can ya do?

Lucifer is all about the life. He basks in senses both pleasant and unappealing, fabricates money to blow on inordinate expenses, lies and cheats on his girlfriend, gets the stirrings of a movie production underway for his life story as Lucifer the Fallen Angel, offers his perspectives and opinions on various celestial and secular Big Moments like:

Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden; the Holocaust; the Creation of Everything, including time and space; the witch hunt era; summoning of devils, especially himself; his rebellion and its aftershocks; the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, etc.

Intermixed amid the musings are details of his slutty behavior which land him trapped in his flat all day due to excessive masturbation; smoking cigarettes every time he turns around, snorting coke, going days without sleep or food, just generally abusing his human husk.

Then things get personal when Gunn’s memories lead Lucifer to thoughts of his mother and her grave. He cries. He goes to seduce a young boy prostitute and gets the shit beat out of him. Drowns himself in being a vague little miscreant for a while.

And THEN! things get interesting. My favorite element of the whole story is re-introduced. Angels. Raphael, having taken a human body much like Lucifer has, tells him that this offer could potentially be his unravelling. Unfortunately all the interesting stuff happens in the last 50 pages, but those last 50 pages definitely made up for any lulls in interest the book may have suffered from in the meantime. I was so pleased with the ending that I would even consider reading the book again one day just because the memory of it was so pleasant.

With an artful amalgam of intellectual vocabulary, harmless fun, harmful intentions, English humor and long-winded explanations and inner-dithering, I, Lucifer left me wanting more but never unfulfilled. At the end of the day, a satisfying delve into the mind of Lucifer indeed.

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