In The Shadow of the House of God
This was a decent book. I wish I had a lot more to say but the truth is that I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this story. The premise itself makes me cock my head to the side but I went into the book with a very open mind and came out wondering if the chance I gave it was worth it.
Just as the summary describes, In the Shadow of the House of God is a story about a wager between God Almighty and the devil in which the Creation itself is placed on a scale. The devil believes that the world is full of vile humans who do not understand peace or joy, but God defends humanity and believes our mistakes strengthen us and set us apart from the rest of His creation. Eventually the two make a wager where the devil bets that humans will collapse into destruction while God maintains His faith in us. Readers are left to watch as their epic game of chess unfolds.
During the course of the story, we explore different walks of life: that of a Christian, a Hindu, and an agnostic. We get to see the world from completely different perspectives which is something I did appreciate and felt there was a lot of development and great storytelling that reinforced the plot and the book overall.
The Hindu POV was my favorite, I felt the style of writing matched the characters and the short story very well whereas the other POV’s made the writing feel awkward. Detailing a conversation between God Almighty and the devil is not an easy task. Speaking from the wily voice of evil is easy, but to somehow capture the voice of GOD is another thing entirely. I think Roberts managed that very well; the language and the tone fit each character correctly, in my opinion at least, but the same tone used for this otherworldly conversation was the way the entire book was written. There was a lot of odd, almost ‘old-fashioned’ language and an abundance of exclamation points which felt like the book was either written by a child or an elder. It had its place in some instances but in others it only dampened the book.
Overall, the book was not bad. Was it my cup of tea? Certainly not. But that has more to do with the style of writing than with the story itself. I will be honest in saying that I don’t think readers who are not open to religious fiction will enjoy this very much. You have to have a certain amount of respect for different cultures, beliefs, and even humanity to appreciate the concept Roberts puts forth. I am a nondenominational Christian and I’m not sure I enjoy the idea of God and Satan playing chess with the future of humanity on the line as a wager for … What? … Fun?
BUT you have to remind yourself that this is JUST A STORY. It isn’t meant to preach to anyone, convert anyone, or criticize anyone. At its heart, this is a book that is meant to show humanity that we are more than what we have shown each other. We can live in peace and coexist. We can be better.