Luke Gracias, the author of The Devil’s Prayer is a film-maker and a photographer who also works as a consultant in Australia. The story is set in Europe and Australia.
In the prologue of The Devil’s Prayer, we are told about a thirteenth century legend and a conspiracy between the Mongols and Papal Legate, Arnaud Amalric., to steal a Bible belonging to Podlažice monastery in the Czech Republic. Although the monks tried their best to keep it safe, this particular Bible known as The Devil’s Bible, which could havoc apocalyptic destruction in the wrong hands, was discreetly copied and 12 pages were stolen from it.
Cut to 2014, we are introduced to Sister Benedictine who has taken a vow of silence six years ago as repentance for her sins. Amalric monks, dressed in red robes, are after her and the chase ends in her death. Everyone believes that she committed suicide to escape from the monks. But, sisters don’t commit suicide.
Thousands of miles away, 23 years old Siobhan Russo is devastated at the news of her mother, Denise Russo’s passing away. She, her 17-years-old-rebel sister Jess and their grandma Edith hold a cremation service although they don’t have the dead body.
Siobhan is intrigued by the sudden development and seeks closure. Her mother Denise had abandoned them 6 years ago and she needed to know why. Thus, she embarks on a journey to find answers to her many unanswered questions. She lands up at the monastery where her mother, Denise, was living as Sister Benedectine for the past 6 years.
Thus begins the roller coaster ride which takes her through various countries before she can get back home. And she manages to get her hands on her mother’s confession which at first devastates Siobhan, then startles and intrigue her, then manages to baffle her and leave her astounded at the end. Readers of The Devil’s Prayer feel just like Siobhan does.
Denise’s confession is filled with legends from 12th and 13th centuries and how they compelled her to do what she did. Denise herself had travelled to various cities and countries in the six years that she had been absent from Siobhan’s life. And through her confession, she requests Siobhan to finish the task that Denise had embarked upon but had failed to finish it.
It is mentioned in the blurb that, The Devil’s Prayer is a historical horror thriller. And rightly so. It has so many things happening at the same time. It is like History meets super-natural meets science. When you are made to go through all that Catholic history of 12th and 13th centuries, you are reminded of Dan Brown, one of the great contemporary masters of historical fiction.
The writing is fast paced, always keeping the reader on the edge of his seat, compelling him to go further leaving him all the more intrigued with every turn of page which often brings along a new twist.
Luke has taken extra care in detailing and you can clearly visualise the story in your mind.
You instantly begin to root for Siobhan and identify with her emotions. And feel almost everything she feels. Including the despair.
But Luke’s real cruelty comes to the fore in the climax of the novel. He abruptly ends it at such a cliffhanger that you are left pleading for more. Of course a sequel is to follow.
On the downside, lots of graphic descriptions of brutal violence makes you wince. Not for the weak-hearted for the sure. And some super-natural elements put you off too. You keep asking how is this even possible?! But then, it is fiction and has to be taken so. The book needs another proof-reading and editing as small errors crop in every now and then.
Buckle the seat-belts and hop-on into this roller-coaster ride. You wouldn’t regret it. Or better wait for the sequel to release and then read it at a time if you are one of those who can’t stand suspense.
If you are interested in surfing through the photographs of some of the locations mentioned in the book, you can head to www.devilsprayer.com
Here’s the video teaser of The Devil’s Prayer.