Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: "Idle Hands" by Cassondra Windwalker

 In the tradition of CS Lewis's Screwtape Letters, the Devil is detailing the events of this tale, at many times interjecting herself into the text to direct her observations at you, dear reader, and even placing herself directly into the plot. Of interesting note is that the Devil is female, whereas the Triune God she refers to as "they" - which subtly places "them" not only as plural (or at least non-binary) but puts them outside, afar, distant.

The philosophy espoused by Ella (the Devil) is theologically sound according the tenets of the Christian Faith, and it would be interesting to see if this author uses her again in another book.

This book is a twist on the Faustian tales, but instead of a male Faust selling his soul for worldly riches, we have Perdie (a mother of three) faced with decisions that tears at the hearts of so many mothers. Ella, of course, uses that for a bit of a game, a "what would you do if you could?" false choice, that leads to unexpected consequences.

Not more than that should be given, so as not to give any spoilers. Suffice it to say, this author has a good handle on the tone of the novel. At times, the philosophy may be a bit lengthy; however, the intensity of the story and the decisions that Perdie has to make keep you engaged and engrossed and turning the page.

The characters are flawed, indeed, and we know who to root for and who not to. Matt, the abusive husband, at times comes across as a bit one-dimensional, but Reilly (Perdie's second husband) is a wonderfully refreshing contrast to the stereotype of step-fathers being at best uncaring and at worst, abusive. He is kind, considerate, and makes decisions that true dads and husbands make.

The theme and the events of this book are intense, and the author handles them with grace, but doesn't shy away from the importance of the details (where Ella lives, of course) and the strength of this book is that it never gives you exactly what you expect. We've all read enough "family drama" stories to think, "Oh yeah, this will happen this way" ... but not here. This is truly a surprise, and hopefully that will encourage you to read this book, because yes, this is a book that people should read.

"Refreshing, intelligent, engaging, philosophical" are the terms I would splay over the front cover of any subsequent reprint of this novel.

Written 2023-0515

Posted on 2023-0315 (rough date of when I finished reading the book)

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