Who Wants to be The Prince of Darkness? by Michael Boatman
Lucifer is enjoying his retirement in an obscure corner of Limbo when he learns of a plot by Gabriel, the current ruler of Hell, to use humanity’s greatest weapon against it – Television!
Cue the hottest reality game-show ever conceived: Who Wants To Be The Prince Of Darkness? Gabriel orchestrates an “Infernal takeover” of Earth by stealing unwitting mortal souls and sending them to a mostly empty Hell, hoping to reinvigorate the Infernal Realm.
Now Lucifer must find a living champion to seize control of Hell and free millions of stolen mortal souls before the theft becomes permanent. But who would ever want to be Hell’s champion?
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
Unfortunately, the blurb on this one is rather misleading, and I admit I was disappointed, as I ended up reading a story I hadn’t particularly wanted to read. To be more specific: I thought there’d be much more of a focus on the “Who Wants To Be The Prince Of Darkness” (PoD) TV show, as a major plot device and as a “battleground” of sorts—maybe the heroes would have to infiltrate the TV set, impersonate some existing participants to get in, do things from within… I don’t know, but something clearly linked to the show, especially with the latter’s host being who he was, and with the whole commentary about how reality shows can subdue people
Instead, the TV game was more of a backdrop, mentioned now and then, but not being THE set the blurb hinted at. The actual story is much more… straightforward? Not uninteresting per se, just not what I wanted to read about in the first place. I suppose I wouldn’t have minded if it had turned out to be really surprising, and not playing on traditional themes, on a more traditional form of conflict. (Powerful artefact gone from Hell, Lucifer’s former generals need it to come back, unwitting protagonist is thrown in there as a potential key to finding it, fighting some demons along the way, etc.)
There are funny moments in the novel, as it plays on tropes like the Self-Help Guru who thinks he’s the Chosen One, but turns out to be completely clueless. Maybe there weren’t enough of such moments, though, or rather, they tended to look like each other after awhile, if this makes sense in such a context. The mythos around the main plot is also a little confusing in its chronology and in how it all unfolds. Lucifer retiring as a mortal? Why not. However, it was difficult to reconcile Hell time and Earth time, as the former made it sound like all this happened centuries ago, and the latter revealing only a couple of decades went by. I got it, sure; only it was pretty confusing, and the inclusion of different narratives, one in first person, the others in third, didn’t make it easy at times.
As for the characters, they were OK, but nothing particularly interesting in the long run, although they had nice little quirks and background stories to build on. I think the one I preferred was Abby D; I just liked her presence, sort of, and what happened around her.