Audiobook Review: The Work of the Devil by Katherine Amt Hanna

10 12 2012

The Work of the Devil by Katherine Amt Hanna

Read by Nick Podehl

Brilliance Audio

Length: 2 Hrs 13 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: For obsessive Post Apocalyptic fans like myself, The Work of the Devil should be added to your must read list. For everybody else, it’s a fun little apocalyptic science fiction quest tale with a western edge that is definitely worth the time.

Grade: B+

There is definitely a strong kinship between the classic Western genre and Post Apocalyptic fiction. Any novel that focuses on the regression of society is sure to pick up some of the obvious tropes of the Western novel, yet, I think the themes of are even more closely intertwined. It’s not just a matter that society has moved away from the convenience of cars and a reliance on electricity, but post apocalyptic fiction is often about a new wild lawlessness and exploration of new territory. In Post Apocalyptic fictions, the lawless bandit and looter has just as much opportunity to become the hero as those enforcing order. In fact, since war and plague tend to devastate population centers and breed distrust of government, those associated with the old way tend to become the villain in apocalyptic tales. Two of my favorite Apocalyptic Fantasy characters, Roland The Gunslinger in Stephen King’s and David Gemmell’s Jerusalem Man really play well into these classic Western Themes. Yet, what I really like about apocalyptic novels with western themes is the blending of technology, myth and the apocalypse. Often times, technology becomes religions icons, often on the side of evil. Anti Luddite movements blend into a new intermingling of religion and technology where technology becomes the sin that the people were judged for, or the tool the angry gods used to punish the fallen.

In Katherine Amt Hanna’s Post Apocalyptic novella The Work of the Devil, she incorporates a sort of weird western feel with an interesting tilt on the Anti-Luddite theme. Here, the offending technology isn’t fully explored, and given an almost alien feel. It’s not clear whether the technology that lead to the disaster had a terrestrial basis or if it came form an other worldly source, as the tales of it‘s origin are given various unreliable sources. In the tale, Aaron, a young man on the verge of marriage, goes on a quest to find the strange technology that may be the cause of the cancer that cuts the life spans of those in his village short. This technology may be the work of the devil and attempts to get near to it is met with a strange force that repels and confuses. Yet, Aaron and his companions are determined to face the evil and perhaps make things better for their small village. I really enjoyed this quick little story. Hanna uses classic apocalyptic themes, yet also takes a lot of interesting turns along the way. I was quite fascinated by this world Hanna created. I had a very similar reaction here that I did with her longer work, Breakdown, I felt like this was just a teaser, an intimate taste of a grandly envisioned world. I wanted to know more about it. I really liked the compare and contrast between the world views of the isolated villagers and the more well traveled traders. For a short novel, I though she did an excellent job developing Aaron, but his companions could have used just a bit more depth. What really intrigued me was the strange devilish technology that was the goal of the quest. Hanna created a great series of events as the group gets closer to, and eventually does battle against this tech. The fight was well choreographed, and the wreckage of the battle blended seamlessly into the tale. For obsessive Post Apocalyptic fans like myself, The Work of the Devil should be added to your must read list. For everybody else, it’s a fun little apocalyptic science fiction quest tale with a western edge that is definitely worth the time.

Nick Podehl is a wonderful narrator and again does excellent work here. Podehl has an excellent grasp on his character voices, and offers a nice range of accents to the mix. I like how Podehl helps guide the listener through the character’s development in the tale, showing how the experience changed them. He adeptly displays the cost of the quest on each character, showing how some are shaken by shame and regret while others are hardened by the experience. While the tale is pretty dark and grisly at times, Podehl manages to capture the dark humor of some of the moments, which really pays off for the listener. The Work of the Devil is a quick listen, just over two hours, but a memorable one, full of great characters, some intense action and even a few touching moments.

Note: Thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing a copy of this title for review.

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