Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction
Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.
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From the cover:
Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. But there are some problems that even the best advice can’t solve. Her latest supplicant, Sebastian, is unique among those who have sought her aid. He sold his soul to a demon in exchange for his sister’s life, but his heart remains pure.
Carrie has lived for millennia with the knowledge that her immortality is due to the suffering of others, and she cannot bear to see another good man damned when it is within her power to prevent it.
In order to renegotiate his contract, Carrie must travel into the depths of hell and parley with the demons that control its pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice to save one good soul.
If I could sum up THE ORACLE OF PHILADELPHIA in one statement, it would be: Supernatural without all the door-stomping and face-shooting. Deals with the devil (some intentioned, some not) as well as frequent trips to hell make up the plot of this unique fantasy romp through Christian lore.
Cassie is a woman with a good heart and a raw deal in life. Thankfully, she has someone like Bedlam—a demon trying oh so hard to be good—to prick holes in her black cloud. Unintentionally funny lines like, “You know how sometimes you start doing something, and it seems like a good idea at the time, but then suddenly there are dead bodies everywhere, and you’re not quite sure how it happened?” Make for much needed chuckles between the harshness of Carrie’s reality.
Planted like delicious seeds of awesome between the main plot points are trips into Carrie’s past where Corrigan creates new images of the past we know and delivers in such a way that makes us question any assumptions we might have had about history. But as interesting as the backstory is, it bulks up toward the beginning of the novel until, finally, the plot amps up with soul-seller Sebastian laying out his story for Cassie and Bedlam. Against her better judgement, she decides to help.
She risks going to hell to contact the demon who holds Sebastian’s contract. While her motivation is honorable, but muddled, it soon becomes clear that the fate of her village all those thousands of years ago still weighs heavy on her shoulders and she sees righting this one wrong as a way to make amends.
While dipping down the various rabbit holes to visit the archdemons of Hell, Corrigan’s imagination pulls the reader through the narrative by the lapels. Her descriptions of Hell’s various pits and the demons that occupy them are creative and visual. Lucifer is strangely amicable, making me wonder what’s in store for him in later books.
What I appreciate most about this novel, though, is Corrigan’s staunch avoidance of the clichéd love story—protagonist lady helps dude, falls in love with dude, helps dude. Carrie’s motivation has nothing to do with love; rather, she feels morally obligated to keep a righteous man from spending eternity in Hell. My only gripe with our protagonist is that, as an old soul, she doesn’t come across as such. There are depths not yet tilled in Carrie and I hope to see more development in the next book of the series.
Overall, THE ORACLE OF PHILADELPHIA is a quick, enjoyable read. If you like your angels snotty and your demons full of bad jokes, this book is for you.