Review: To The Devil – A Diva by Paul Magrs

Review: To The Devil – A Diva by Paul MagrsTo the Devil - A Diva! by Paul Magrs

Published by Allison & Busby on November 10th 2004
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Pages: 286

Karla Sorensen used to be big in horror films. In the 60s and 70s no self-respecting low-budget bloodily schlocky shocker was complete without the Queen of the Vampires presiding over it. She was well qualified for it, after all . at the age of ten she sold her soul to the devil. Now, although spookily ageless, Karla is knocking on in years. Her residuals are drying up and she needs some cash, so she decides to return to the north of England, to Manchester, to appear in Menswear, Britain's riskiest television soap opera. Not everyone's happy about her return to the fame game, however. The current star of the late-night show is Lance Randall, the famously bisexual actor, and he is furious to hear that Karla is about to become his co-star. He hates her, he fears her, and he's convinced that she's coming to steal his very soul. Dark clouds are massing around Manchester; deep, dark, devilish secrets are about to be unleashed that will wreak havoc on all around.

I often go to book fairs where old, rejected, unsellable books are. They’re cheap and the variety is great. Stephen King will be surrounded by many unknown writers, cookbooks next to science books, books about crafts, children’s books, but most of them are Dutch. The last time there was only one long table of English books, with mostly unknown authors, unknown to me at least. I picked up a few books, and To The Devil – A Diva by Paul Magrs was one of them. I thought it would be a good book to read on a stormy evening.

Later I found out that Paul Magrs is a well-known name in the Dr. Who circles. He’s written, novels, short stories, and radio plays for the Dr. Who universe. After two pages I knew that I did well in picking up this book. I couldn’t stop reading it and it’s very well written.

[Warning: books contains explicit language, sex, and occult rituals.]

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I bought the book. I thought it was a horror book with an adult edge, but it was more adult with a little bit of horror. I do think that lust and gore go well together when written adequately. Even on their own, a sex or horror scene is only as good as its writing. Detailed, but not laden with adverbs. It should push the boundaries of what you can handle, enough to make you feel something.

That’s what Magrs did. Everything was well written with just enough spice. He never crosses the line (at least for me) and he lets the character engage in sex, but skips over the scene itself. We don’t need to read the whole act of lovemaking, or lust carnage, because just saying it’s happening and what the aftermath is, is enough.

There is one part that confused me: the story of Fox and Magda Soames. It’s being told by Fox as you get a tour around the house. Fox is telling you his story about his family and he explains why certain things happened. But in this chapter, it feels as if there are two different voices: the one talking to you and the flashback to the days of old. It doesn’t match and even feels a little awkward.

The one thing that I didn’t like was the seemingly rushed ending. The whole point of the book is to bring the company together, all of the characters. What happens then is quite tame. I was expecting a bigger climax, mostly due to what happened before. Satanic rites, ecstasy, vile happenings, death, lust. And the end, it barely has anything like that. And it’s a missed opportunity.

I give To The Devil – A Diva by Paul Magrs three stars. The anticlimactic ending and the wrongly build expectations are the reason. I liked the characters, the story is good, it’s well written, but it’s not enough. I wanted more and I felt I would be given more. Now I need to read something else to fill my void.

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