The Devil's Concubine — The Least Horrific Horror Novel Ever
July 31, 2012 | ~4 mins read time.

The Devil's ConcubineI like a good horror novel. I like a horror novel that can cause me to look over my shoulder while reading at small noises or that have the ability to make me cringe. I like horror that creeps up on me and slaps me in the face when I'm not looking. I have even enjoyed the occasional novel chock full of so much gore and violence that it left me feeling a little ill afterward, if not imbued with an extreme sense of morbid curiosity over what the "bad guy" was going to do next.

The Devil's Concubine by Spanish author, Ángeles Goyanes (and translated by Kasia Johnson) did none of those things. Not one. I had high hopes, too. After all, the synopsis reads: "A few hours before her execution a woman narrates to her priest the story of her passionate love for a fallen angel. A story that plunges us into a world of terror from its beginning in 1212, during the French crusades, until its present-day ending." Such. High. Hopes. (There are some spoilers beyond here …)

The synopsis promises that the protagonist, Juliette, falls madly in love with a fallen angel. She does, his name is Shallem. Shallem's got a brother who, apparently, shares his soul. The brother's name is Cannat. Then there's a fallen angel called Eonar, who weirdly rapes Juliette to create a child. I say "weirdly" because Juliette describes how she's paralyzed with fear, Eonar enters her, and then does … nothing until he finishes, pulls out, and disappears.

It was incredibly indifferent to the point where I had to chastise myself a little for having no reaction other than, "What the hell did I just read?" That particular act should never cause a thought like that. So, Juliette gives birth to the Satan-figure's child while she's waiting for Shallem to show back up from being detained a decade or so earlier from joining her.

The anti-Christ is not really a scary character. He's written like a spoiled child with a homicidal streak. A real child like that would be scary, of course, but when it's in a so-called horror novel with barely any detail whatsoever, it's kind of boring. Juliette has another child later on in the book. Shallem's this time. This one throws a tantrum when he gets it in his head that his father doesn't love him. There is a scene that could have been fantastic where the boy finds himself in the sacrificial chamber of an Incan pyramid.

Unfortunately, the two angel brothers, Juliette and the child have what amounts to a family discussion amid blood and body parts. It's disconnected to the extreme. For several hundred pages, the author reiterates how God left the fallen angels on Earth as punishment and how two of them, Cannat and Shallem, out of all the host of fallen angels, are the only two that can sort of handle being around humans.

Rather than deliver on the torment described in the book's synopsis, the two brothers tend to go on random killing sprees. Keep in mind, these random killing sprees occur during time periods where fighting in the streets could be seen as an almost common occurrence. There's nothing spectacular about it. The angels are fallen, demons if you will, and I was expecting more out of them. More, I tell you! That two supernatural badasses could be so utterly boring is pretty amazing. Just not in the good way.

Juliette is another matter all-together. She, too, shares a piece of Shallem's soul. As such, her soul is immortal, but her body can die. Later on, she body-hops with the help of the brothers. Now, this could have been so great as horror concept, but again, it fell flat. I could go on and on picking the book apart, but I'm going to stop now. It simply was not the terrifying read it's supposed to be.

That said, if a person could find the book in Spanish and read it in the language it was written in, it might be all right. With all of the grammatical and spelling errors in the book (e.g. "should of" instead of "should have", countless "angles" instead of "angels"), I suspect that the translator may have ruined the book with a poor translation of situations and dialogue.