Breaking the Devil’s Heart by H.A. Goodman
Reading level: Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Release date: May 4, 2012
Series: Logic of Demons #2
Source: Review copy from the author
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
When Stewart and Layla recruit a demon to spy on the Devil, their decision takes them on whirlwind ride through the afterlife. Journey alongside this young couple in H. A. Goodman’s new novel, Breaking the Devil’s Heart, and join forces with a teenage Angel outcast to bankrupt Satan's underground Company and save Heaven from civil war. H. A. Goodman's Breaking the Devil’s Heart is a rollercoaster afterlife experience that tests a young couple's love, their grasp on reality, and the essence of human nature. What happens when Stewart and Layla tour Hell’s Marketing Department and Stock Exchange? What happens when their relationship is tested by Satan? This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read, or ever thought the afterlife might be like. Breaking the Devil’s Heart is an enlightening look into an alternate world, a new afterlife, and a profound journey inside the human conscience.
When I say this book is original, it’s quite an understatement. H.A. Goodman has recreated the afterlife as we know it in Breaking the Devil’s Heart. It’s so unique, I had a hard time picking a genre for it, since it doesn’t fit nicely into any category. While it does have some romantic elements, I wouldn’t consider it a paranormal romance. It’s not an urban fantasy either. It’s literally a book about life after death and trying to eliminate all evil from the world and the underworld.
Imagine Hell as a corporate company. Not very hard, I know, but in this book, hell is literally called The Company by everyone who works there (A.K.A. demons). The Company even has its own Stock Exchange and Marketing Department, but its true crowning achievement is the invention of The Formula. Ultimately, demons sell this Formula to unsuspecting human in the real world. Working like a hardcore drug, it has the ability to turn humans into evil beings with tainted souls, which, overall, is good for the Stock Exchange of The Company.
The protagonist of the story, Stewart, isn’t exactly an Angel, nor is he a Demon. He’s an Observer and that enables him to get the best of both worlds. Both him and his Observer girlfriend Layla, have dedicated their afterlives to eradicating evil. Stewart’s main goals in this novel was to infiltrate The Company, find out how The Formula works and put an end to it all. As he infiltrated The Company we were able to learn more and more about the inner working of hell and The Boss’s ultimate goals. Personally, I found the description of hell long and arduous. After lengthy descriptions, I’m still very confused about how The Formula works. There’s nothing tidy and clean cut about this world building but that might have been intentional since it does leave an air of mystery to the underworld. Somewhere in the grand tour of hell, the author lost me in the whirlwind of scene changes and fragmentary explanations of The Formula.
One thing I did enjoy were the flashbacks on humanity’s darkest moments where we met men and women that came out shinning with compassion and honor. It made me see the good in humanity and made me realize how much we can learn from history, in order to prevent the repetition of our errors. The idea of blaming genocides and wars on The Formula gave Stewart some hope in finding a cure to this “drug”. His quest sometimes felt overwhelming but you kept cheering him on because of the awful (and wonderful) historical characters that we met.
I wanted to love this book. I really did. I did end up enjoying it, however with some inner reservations. I think is was a little too philosophical for my tastes. Goodman’s unconventional approach to many topics enable him to breach many subject, like history, sociology, psychology and criminology. His complicated theoretical explanations of good vs. evil were brilliant but personally, I found it lacked some story-telling in between. Although Breaking the Devil’s Heart wasn’t exactly for me, I’m glad I read it because it did make me think about our history and the future of humanity. You can find glowing reviews of the book on the author’s website.