My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Content warnings: religious zealots, lots of talk of religion specifically of catholicism and orthodoxy, death, rape, attempted murder, selling your soul to the devil, death of teenager, miraculous healing, dealings with the devil (multiple), self flagellation, torture, religious torture (self imposed and not), suicide, alcohol use, drug use
I received a free copy via Netgalley for a fair and honest review.
There’s a lot to digest about this. From the non ending ending to the religious conspiracies to the research that I need to do to fact check to see if we’re given factual information with religious conspiracies or if just barely researched wikipedia information religious conspiracies to the statements made by Catholic priests that don’t sound like they’re coming from Catholic priests. It’s a LOT to digest.Which has a website you can visit if you’re interested.
So, a few quotes in this book stood out to me. For very distinct reasons. Both these quotes were stated by priests. And honestly, from being raised in a non denominational household (by my parents) and having very religious family members (Roman Catholic on dad’s side and extremist Christian on mum’s side) and going to church A LOT as a child, I can unequivocally say that no Catholic priest (and it was stated that it was Catholic priests) would say anything like this. They might infer it but wouldn’t outright say either.
Religion is the oldest business in the world. “We sell faith. Faith is being sure in what we cannot see and being certain in what we live for. The greatest fear of the human race is loneliness. Religion offers you God as your companion, to be with you all the time, wherever you go. “It is instilled in the very young by wonderful myths like Santa Claus that bring enormous happiness to children. Many come back to religion when death knocks at their door; for with religion you will not walk alone, and perhaps you will not walk alone when you leave this earth. Every day, in nearly every city and town in the world, some old man or lady dies, leaving behind something in their will—a house, some money, some land—all to the Church, their last friend who kept them company in their time of loneliness. Some perhaps hope it buys their way to heaven or makes amends for their sins in the past. Guilt is the currency of the Catholic faith.
There are many religions, many having their own gods. So which god is the Devil fighting?”Father Jakub answered softly. “You are confusing God with religion. It is like water. Water is water, whether you drink it from the tap, or you get it from a bottle sparkling or still, it is always water, irrespective of the brand or packaging. God is like water and religion is the brand or packaging.”“What are your thoughts on the hundreds of thousands of innocents killed over the ages in the name of God? As a priest, how do you still believe in God?”Jakub replied, “The problem is neither with religion nor with God. The problem is with man and what he does in the name of God. Religion is like a knife: in the hands of a surgeon, it heals, but in the hands of a murderer, it kills. “Every religion encourages you to have a regular dose of God in your life in the form of regular prayer and meditation. In the words of Renaissance physicist and occultist Paracelsus, ‘Sola dosis facit venenum’, which means the dose makes the poison. Even oxygen and water, which are essential to all living creatures, are toxic if the dose is too high. And so it is with religion, too.
That all said, both quotes are very true. Catholicism’s currency is guilt and the way that deity works is that the deity is there regardless of your particular religious beliefs. All religions tend to believe the same things especially amongst the Abrahamic religions and as much as it makes them angry to hear it, Christianity is closest to Islamic beliefs rather than Judaism. And Judaism is also closer to Islam than Christianity. And Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are the triad that make up the Abrahamic religions (and all believe in the same God).
Anyway, off of the religion topic because I don’t like discussing religion for varying reasons (but I will if people want to in the comments), this was a very compelling read. And while I wasn’t too happy about the unexpected rape scene, I am happy how it was resolved in the end. I am also happy that the goodreads page has been updated to add content warnings for the book it’s nice to see that as content warnings aren’t often seen or used and it’s often a fight to get authors to even consider using them.
As to the history part of the novel, I can say that there’s quite a bit of the book that is accurate like some of the specific people mentioned and quotes attributed to them that may or may not have actually been said by them (or misquoted by them) and their reputations. The prologue was interesting to read.
If you like historical fiction and you like religious conspiracy books, this book will be right up your alley. But if you don’t, then you probably won’t like this book.