fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Book of Joby Mark Ferrari reviewThe Book of Joby by Mark Ferrari

Ostensibly inspired by the book of Job found in the Bible, The Book of Joby is actually a somewhat odd meld of Arthurian legend and fantasy set in modern times. Who knew that such a thing could exist! There are several characters who have been drawn from the Bible, namely God, Michael and Gabriel — both archangels — and, of course, the devil himself. Any biblical resemblance to characters and plot ideas in The Book Of Joby ends there. For example, the story of creation according to The Book of Joby is that the devil created humans by causing apes to evolve; God swears, hangs out in bars, drinks, lies, and can be sneaky, patronising, sarcastic, and even vindictive. Mark Ferrari was possibly trying to create a down-to-Earth appeal with his depiction of God, but God just comes off as a hick. And the devil character is not all that evil, really; he’s more a petty perfectionist than anything.

If you are prone to being offended by such things, you will not enjoy this book.

So what about the actual story? It’s very well written for a debut novel. The writing is mature and tacks along at a good pace. The characters are, for the most part, well fleshed out and believable within the context of the book. I do think that the book starts much better than it finishes, though. Towards the end I found it to be over-wrought to the point of bordering on soap opera. It just isn’t written nearly as well in the last quarter or so of the book, unfortunately. The characters become less believable and the Ferrari’s attempts to get emotional reactions from his readers are about as subtle as reality TV. Also, there was so much negativity and angst that I found it draining to read. When I finished the book I was relieved rather than satisfied. It wasn’t the sort of pleasure you get from finishing an engaging novel; it was more like the sense of wrungout peace you get when your neighbours finally turn their loud music off at 4am — Ah! At last!

I’ve given this three stars, because it is mostly well-written and absorbing. I haven’t scored it higher, because I didn’t especially enjoy the story.

The Book of Joby — (2007) Publisher: The Book of Joby is an epic fantasy complete in one volume. Lucifer and the Creator have entered, yet again, into a wager they’ve made many times before, but this time, the existence of creation itself is balanced on the outcome. Born in California during the twilight years of a weary millennium, nine year old Joby Peterson dreams of blazing like a bonfire against the gathering darkness of his times, like a knight of the Round Table. Instead, he is subjected to a life of crippling self-doubt and relentless mediocrity inflicted by an enemy he did nothing to earn and cannot begin to comprehend. Though imperiled themselves, the angels are forbidden to intervene. Left to struggle with their own loyalties and the question of obedience, they watch Lucifer work virtually unhindered to turn Joby’s heart of gold into ash and stone while God sits by, seemingly unconcerned. And so when he is grown to manhood, Joby’s once luminous love of life seems altogether lost, and Lucifer’s victory assured. What hope remains lies hidden in the beauty, warmth, and innocence of a forgotten seaside village whose odd inhabitants seem to defy the modern world’s most inflexible assumptions, and in the hearts of Joby’s long lost youthful love and her emotionally wounded son. But the ravenous forces of destruction that follow Joby into this concealed paradise plan to use these same things to bring him and his world to ruin. As the final struggle unfolds, one question occupies every mind in heaven and in hell. Which will prove stronger, love or rage? The Book of Joby is an instant classic of contemporary fantasy.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMark Pawlyszyn, one of our earliest guest reviewers, has always tended toward the creative side of life and had careers in music and painting before settling into his current position as the owner of Unique Images Photography. Mark has visited and lived in twelve countries and can ask for directions to the bathroom in several languages. He currently lives in Canada with his wife, Sherri.