Title: Colandra’s Crusade
Angels, Demons and Possessed Cats Collide
Author: Susie Pilkington-Wood
The idea behind this book is an interesting one – basically a vision of an afterlife bureaucracy involved in moving souls up, or down, the spiritual ladder, and a soul looking for its comatose body – but it doesn’t succeed as well as it could.
The prologue shows subtlety, attention to detail and insight in the writing, and the beginning chapters when Colandra finds himself in a rat’s body and learns what has happened to him held my attention, but the early promise is not fulfilled by the rest of the book.
There is a naivety about the writing that comes across as being a little shallow. Good and evil are too clearly defined and too rigidly judged. It’s a simplistic vision which wouldn’t, perhaps, be such a problem if it was well written. Unfortunately however, the prose is passive a lot of the time, with an overuse of various manifestations of the verb ‘to be’, and often we are told about a character rather than shown them doing things that allow us to come to conclusions about a character ourselves. Too often we are also told what a character is feeling rather than shown their feelings through description.
Apart from Colandra and the head assigner of souls, the characters were a little one dimensional and the dialogue was often simplistic or simply unrealistic. People do not tell each other everything. They keep things back. Subtext is what makes dialogue interesting, but there is none here. Some of the character’s motivations are also a little thin, for example, a spirit that has made her way to the third level on the path towards Heaven – something that takes quite a bit of commitment – makes a pact with a demon because she thinks it will be a fast way to immortality. It didn’t wash with me simply because by that stage of the path she wouldn’t have been so gullible.
Though the plot, structure and pacing were all good, I didn’t finish the book because even though the story had potential, the execution wasn’t improving. This is an example of a good concept that has been published without sufficient development. It needs more subtlety in the concepts and a good line editor to improve the prose and dialogue.