Thinking back, I believe this is perhaps only the second or third time that I have given up on a book from an established publisher – as opposed to a self-published or small-press work – and thrown it into the corner. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who really need this sort of fiction, who are insecure enough to believe that this is what is going to happen when they die and who, despite all their worldly ways and sins, are looking forward to the Final Judgement.
I have nothing against this at all: you want to believe it, you go right ahead. I’d rather that you followed those teachings you profess to believe in and did good during your life but, at the end of the day, you’re the one who believes you’re going to burn in hell for your sins, or not. Luckily some religions allow you to sin as much as you want and then get a quick pardon on a Sunday, but that’s beside the point. I also don’t believe in these pardons, no matter how many hours you spend on your knees reciting Hail Mary or even singing your own version of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief.
So why, I ask myself, would I be interested in reading about a young woman who has clearly died before her time and is now being primed to act as an attorney in heaven on the final judgement day? Perhaps it was the book’s blurb, that the author is fascinated by the connections between the law and spirituality. That’s all well and good, but has little or nothing to do with this work. Law and spirituality are earthbound things, and not connected to what might or might not happen when whatever is left over from us – be it a soul or just an electric charge – stands – or is – before the heavenly throne to have our misdeeds judged.
Photo Source: Alice Popkorn – Creative Commons
It’s much more than this, though, in James Kimmel’s The Trial Of Angels which makes me want to rip this work into tiny pieces and recycle the remains for something useful, such as toilet paper. I cannot get my head around the idea that this young woman, who has practically no life experience whatsoever, should be picked to use the laws of her home State, where she gained the little experience she had during her time on Earth, to judge countless spirits – blobs of energy or whatever – for their time on the planet.
I can also not understand why the earthly symbols of the various religions keep on appearing in a heaven which has nothing to do with religion or, better, which should have nothing to do with religion. Or why she comes into a sort of limbo – which no longer exists, despite centuries of use, because a Pope decreed it is no longer there – and still has her body as well as the help of those people in her past, complete with their bodies and in the various houses and towns they lived in. And cars which drive themselves along the highway? Fine, we will probably have that in the future, but I don’t think this is going to be a part of heaven.
Not only does she still have her body – missing an arm, it should be added, following an accident when she was a small child – but she’s just about the only one who does. All the other spirits, energy masses, former people and so on, are represented as balls of energy consisting of memories and experiences. They have no body, no earthly remains, skin or bones.
I daresay there is a market for this sort of thing – my copy has a sticker claiming it to be a New York Times bestseller, which makes me wonder how deep in the listings and whether it was a very, very bad year for literature – amongst those who really have no conception of reality or, since this is clearly fiction, the possibilities of a reality after death as foretold by various publications written by those with no experience of life after death at all. For me, and I am including the style of writing as much as the subject matter and the fantasy level involved, this is a book which could have been better, had the author dedicated himself to his interests of law and spirituality and not the pure fantasy world of life after death in a multi-religious heaven controlled by attorneys preparing for the final judgement.
- Viktoria Michaelis.