Publisher: Perfect Edge (28 Feb 2014)
After a solar eclipse, nineteen people were found dead in a remote area of the California National Forest. They were lying in a circle, holding hands and wearing plastic fairy wings. Years later, on the other side of the country, no one in the southern city of Jefferson is concerned about fairies or fairy-worshiping suicide cults. Except for Candy. She might not have proof, but she’s damn sure it’s going to happen again. The problem is, Candy is a coke-dealing stripper and the only person who will listen to her is an alcoholic mall Santa named Hank, who’s only listening because, well she’s hot. There are seven days until the next eclipse.
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I have to start by saying I enjoyed the format of this debut novel. Starting with Kevin, followed by Hank and then Heather, not only do we get to know each of the characters but the understanding of how their lives are or will be connected (my notes from the very beginning say ‘weird’ as I had no way of knowing how it fitted in with the blurb. Very clever).
Kevin’s perceptions of the adults, reading what we try to hide with gestures and words, is something I think you either can do or it’s a blank wall. This has given added depth to the story and ties in with truth/lies and religion/spirituality.
Religion and Spirituality – tenets, dogma, faith and community. The Atheist’s Prayer characters are either Baptist, (lapsed) Jewish, Buddhist and of course the Polymoirans (and yes, they do wear plastic fairy wings). A faith that to me, has a foundation that made sense! I’m sure this is familiar … with a splinter group whose leader interpreted only a part of the whole. Followers are brought into the fold who are ‘lost’ and looking for a place to belong, therefore vulnerable and needy. Kevin, having only been to a church school is totally confused when at his new school, the topic is evolution.
The characters are brilliant. A woman appearing chaste and believing in God on the surface but always seeming to mess up in her life by making ‘bad’ choices; an alcoholic who had a childhood that is still destroying him; a woman with a mental illness who makes sense to a young girl; a drug dealer/stripper with a conscience and a young boy receiving confusing and mixed messages.
The Atheist’s Prayer for me is about judgements and labels we give to others which aren’t necessarily the truth … and a search for a wholeness we are all ultimately trying to find (whether that search is through love of a person or love of a deity).
Can Hank and Candy avert another suicide pact in the 7 days running up to the eclipse? An unlikely duo on the face of it …
If you are open minded and like a plot that makes you think and takes you out of your comfort zone, this may well be a novel you add to your reading list.
I would like to thank the author for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.