A one star review went up on Amazon.com some time yesterday, which warns undecided readers that exposure to Thy Fearful Symmetry might cause demons to possess them, and make them do naughty things to goats and chickens (or something). It reflects another opinion I heard by email, in which I am accused of having an atheist agenda.
I normally wouldn’t trouble myself to reply to a negative review, but as you can see I’ve made an exception in this case. I suspect that, on one of the days when the novel has been promoted as free, the reviewer glanced at it, assumed it was Christian Fiction, and downloaded it. As I commented, I’ve done everything I can to highlight that the novel doesn’t fall into that category. The title of the book is from William Blake’s Tyger, a well known poem that questions God’s grand plan. The cover includes a blurb fro Steven Savile, which references that I’m a horror writer. The book is listed on Amazon under ‘dark fantasy’ and ‘horror’.
The reviewer also clearly misses one further point. The book is fiction. The afterword to the novel contains the following couple of paragraphs, for further clarity.
“Thy Fearful Symmetry is set in and around the places I’ve lived, particularly the West End of Glasgow, where I spent my first few years acclimatising to Scotland. If you know the city, you’ll know I’ve got it wrong. As I’ve written, I’ve bent streets out of shape, repurposed buildings, and made other adjustments to make the city fit the story. The glorious thing about fiction, is that I’m allowed to do it that way round. I hope you still recognise it though.
I’ve taken much the same liberties with Christian myth. As an atheist, I consider the stories of that faith to be just that – stories. Some are fantastic, others more of a struggle to get into, but it’s all great source material. I’ve drawn from it loosely, in the same way I would if I were inclined to write about the ancient myths of Egypt or Greece. No offence is intended, and please don’t harangue me about the stuff I’ve got wrong. I know. Like this version of Glasgow, the Christian myths in these pages are exactly as accurate as this piece of fiction needs them to be.”
Yes, I’m an atheist. No, this book isn’t about that (honestly – putting angels, Gods, and demons into any book about how none of these things exist would be a comically basic error, unless trying to be funny). Yes, if you’re the sort of Christian that shakes in rage and terror at any deviance from the sacred texts then you’ll be offended. Hell mend you for reading it in the first place, if you’ll pardon the expression.
To be fair to the reviewer, I suspect that she’s made a swift download decision one day, having seen an angel on the cover and noted that the book was free, but not really paid any further attention to the details. Fair enough. I don’t mind (and nor do I mind her posting a one star review – I’m sure it won’t be the book’s last…).
Anyway, be warned. Reading Thy Fearful Symmetry will damn your soul to purgatory, where all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll happens. On reading even a sentence of this cursed tome, you will probably run straight to the local petting zoo to have evil monkey sex with goats, right where everybody can see. You’ll never get to hear lovely harps and stuff. If a platonic frolic, barefoot through dewy Heaven-grass, is your sort of thing, avoid this book at all costs.
On the other hand, if you quite like the idea of evil monkey sex with goats, this is definitely the book for you.
Currently Reading: Empire State by Adam Christopher