Today’s book is Magnificent Malevolence. I was provided a copy through the publishers in exchange for the review. No money changed hands, and Derek Wilson, author, did not send any cookies to bribe me. This had no effect on my opinion of the book.
Many years ago, C.S. Lewis did himself and the rest of the Christian literary world the great helpful disservice of writing a little book called The Screwtape Letters. This volume attempted to presented the ways in which Christians and Christianity were afflicted by the demonic enemies of God, and caused Lewis difficulties with people wanting a second volume, and caused many others difficulties with trying to match his work.
Fortunately, Derek Wilson’s Magnificent Malevolence does not attempt to hide from its debt to Jack and the infernal correspondence of Screwtape. Wilson acknowledges the connection on the front cover and again in the Introduction chapter of the book itself.
The literary format is quite simple. Wilson presents Magnificent Malevolence as the recovery of a first-source manuscript by the demon involved, in this case a diabolical fiend named Crumblewit. This leads to part of the fun of the book: the names assigned to the demons are quite quirky and entertaining. Blagender, Squimblebag, and Snagwort are some of those names. Good stuff.
The unifying plotline of Magnificent Malevolence is not any particular scheme of the “Lower Command” as much as it is the narrative of the work of Crumblewit. In this, rather than relating to specific temptations and phases of life for an individual, the work rather broadens out to address various occasions across recent church history. Various Christian happenings, from Charismatic movements to music style explosions are addressed, as well as the foundations of radio, TV, and the Internet.
It is here, though, that Magnificent Malevolence has its moments of stumbling. Wilson delves into some territory here where there were, and are, divisions among Christians over the right way to address issues such as worship style, environment, and even church organization processes. However, to read Crumblewit’s take, any division was from the efforts of Hell and anyone who questioned questionable ideas were being the tools of Hell. That is, for me, a touch too far.
Wilson does not tarry too long on any one issue, though, so if your views on the environment or political-economic systems differ from his, there remains much within Magnificent Malevolence to benefit you. Overall, this work stands well as a work of fiction to challenge the Christian to think.
In all, a good read for higher middle-school and up. Remember that this is a work of the author’s imagination, but it is a well-rounded work, and worth your time to read.
Again: free book in exchange for the review. The only demand is the due date, not the content.