"Next, After Lucifer" Book Review
Written by Neil McMahon
2012, 306 pages, Fiction
Released on February 1st, 2012
After that novel about the code pulled the Templars out of obscurity and made them a mainstream sensation, every talentless author in the world tried to write about them. About a year after the onslaught began, I became sure I would never again be able to enjoy another book in which the Knight Templars were mentioned. Then came Neil McMahon's reprint of his 1987 novel Next, After Lucifer and I had to eat my words.
Next, After Lucifer takers place in the rural French village of Provence. History professor and author John McTell is on holiday with his wife, whom he met at the university. A pool shimmers in the backyard of the place the couple is renting for their getaway, even though the rest of the town is struggling with a drought. The water came from underground, but it didn't come alone. An ancient evil taints the liquid and it slowly begins to have an impact on those close to it. Before long, McTell and his wife, his wife's guests, the town's priest, its doctor and the folks that clean and cook for the vacationing couple will all have to face the force that was let loose the moment the water was released. With the appearance of a book and strange occurrences in and near the home, even the most skeptical of those involved will have to accept that things are changing for the worse with each passing day. In the end, the thing that came with the water will find a host and blood will flow.
The first thing that stands out in this book is McMahon's prose. The only way to describe it is elegant. However, this is not to be confused with academic or boring; elegant here only means that it manages to blend a perfectly contemporary world with the darkest part of the Middle Ages. McTell is an educated man and his wife's guests all speak like cultured individuals. Still, the narrative is easily understood, the use of Latin never becomes boring, and the dialogues are top-notch.
While there are a few instances of slight gore (a mangled dog being the best example), the horror in Next, After Lucifer comes from the unknown, from strange sounds in the night, weird dreams, a bizarre creature that moves unnaturally and something akin to a rash or burn that McTell develops in his hand. When paired with an esoteric book in which new lines appear regularly, the spooky tales told by a priest and the humorous/uncomfortable/tense interactions between the characters, the result is a book that's entertaining, eerie and fun to read.
Next, After Lucifer mixes an attention-grabbing back story with a complex present in a way that neither one overpowers the other. The ending, which can be best described as a cliffhanger, leaves the door open for the sequel, entitled Adversary. However, the novel can stand alone and satisfy readers all by itself. When a book gets a second chance like this, it means there's something there worth sharing with the world, and Next, After Lucifer is a supernatural treat worth reading.