To anyone who doesn’t know in advance that there are many more forms of Catholic (Old Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Anglican, etc.) than Roman, the first few chapters of “The Kingdom” will be a series of surrealistic shocks. The preface shows what seems to be a standard scene of a wizard summoning a demon, until he brings out the avocado. The first chapter reveals a friar (not a monk) falling into a miserable depression because he’s just been dumped by his (male) lover. After that we meet the rest of the Berkeley Blackfriars, most of whom are married – not usually to other Catholics – or Gay, or pot-heads.
And these are the good guys: specialists in demon-hunting, whose skills are soon needed in a wild caper among witches, sorcerers, demons and bishops’ synods. No, there’s no hypocrisy here; these friars are Old Catholics, with a widely tolerant and free-wheeling interpretation of Christianity that isn’t fully explained until well into the plot.
Equally free-wheeling is the writing style, full of merry vulgarisms and puns, jumping happily between half-a-dozen viewpoints, oddly fixated on drooling, yet infused with a broad compassion for everyone – even, ultimately, the involved demons themselves.
Perhaps I’m biased, since I used to live next door to Berkeley and recognize various thinly-disguised locations there. It also helps that two of my friends were married in the Old Catholic church, so I was familiar with it before ever I read the book. Even so, I can honestly say that “The Kingdom” is like no Christians-versus-demons Fantasy novel you’ve seen before. This is a true original, and shouldn’t be missed.
--Leslie <;)))>< Fish