Author: Paul Hoffman
Novel: The Left Hand of God
Release date: 2010
Category: Young adult fantasy (or so the publishers tells me)
Blurb: ‘Listen. The sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp is named after a damned lie, for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary’
The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a vast and desolate place–a place without joy or hope. Most of its occupants were taken there as boys and for years have endured the brutal regime of the Lord Redeemers, whose cruelty and voilence have one singluar purpose–to serve in the name of the One True Faith.
In one of the Sanctuary’s vast and twisting maze of corridors stands a boy. He is perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old–he is not sure, and neither is anyone else. He has long-forgotten his real name, but now they call him Thomas Cale. He is strange and secretive, witty and charming, violent and profoundly bloody-minded. He is so used to the cruelty that he seems immune, but soon he will open the wrong door at the wrong time and witness an act so terrible that the will have to leave this place, or die.
His only hope of survival is to escape across the arid Scablands to Memphis, a city the opposite of the Sanctuary in every way: breathtakingly beautiful, infinitely Godless and deeply corrupt.
But the Redeemers want Cale back at any price...not because of the secret he now knows, but because of a much more terrifying secret he does not.
Review: This has to be the strangest book I have ever read. No... that's not true nothing can beat T'is Pity She’s A Whore, or the absurdest play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, but this came pretty close. I think what really threw me was that I could never guess what was going to happen, even when I was only a page away. And it wasn’t just the major events. I didn’t guess anything, not the small character developments nor the subplots. That in itself was strange. Infinitely magnified when the ending hit. I did not guess what was going to happen, I’m still not sure what did happen and I’m really not sure I liked what happened.
Hoffman has already written two other novels, The Wisdom of Crocodiles predicting the collapse of the world financial system and The Golden Age of Censorship a black comedy, and if I had known this before hand I don’t think I would have bothered with The Left Hand of God. There was defiantly a black skepticism underlying everything. Without giving too much away I would describe this novel like a bad dream that you thought you had woken up from but find out you haven’t. Continuously.
So, unless you like surprise ending that are more surprise than satisfying, and you can deal with twisted realities that leave you feeling lost, confused and a little bit angry then this is the book for you. Otherwise I would advice steering clear.
(It is a good read. I think I was expecting something else which is why the book ended up disappointing me. But I’m sure I’m sure with an open mind you will be able to enjoy the story more for what it is rather then for what it isn’t. Make sense?)