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#Review of The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley

December 20, 2012

This was the first time I came across a book by Dennis Wheatley & I am glad to say I was not disappointed.
The novel is intense & the plot is intriguing as well as a revelation. The book is a classic when it comes to the Thriller/Horror genre. The author has done full justice to the main theme of the novel which is, ‘Black magic’ or as a more informed person would put it, the dangers of the ‘Left Hand’. The novel narrates in a very educative way, the mysteries of the Satanists who as we are well aware of have been in existence for many a century. It brings to our notice the peril behind a practitioner of the dreaded dark arts with an unusual twist in the narrative which confounds our rationality but, being informed of certain aspects of theosophy, theology, mysticism & the occult….we are able to fully comprehend. I admire the professionalism of the author with regards to his thorough research on the matter including his in depth study of the esoteric arts & ancient history. His advanced mind is portrayed through the personage of De Richleau who abhors every bit of the dark side to magic & mysticism. He is the real ‘hero’ if one may put it, of the novel who fights against the evil forces that threaten to bring the world on the brink of another war on a grand scale (the author here refers to the ‘Great War’ which we know today as the ‘First World War’)
The novel is fast paced & yet not inadequate in the knowledge it tries to bring to the limelight. It is a highly shocking novel about how a Jewish friend of De Richleau & Rex Van Ryn gets seriously & dangerously involved in the blasphemous activities of Satanists. There follows the fight for the very soul of the Jewish young man,Mr. Simon Aron between the diabolic Satanist Mocata & Simon’s true friends who wish him to rid himself of all that is evil. The characters in the story are all risk takers including Mocata the villain himself (he in frustration almost tries to seize Simon during the daytime when Satanists are at their weakest) yet, they are all true men of their beliefs & interestingly enough, it is a well balanced & highly strong willed woman (Marie Lou) who saves one and all from a calamity worse that death.
What I most appreciate about this novel is the way the author through his various characters, educates the reader as to the reason to believe in the forces of darkness…..& he manages to convince us very well indeed. The author I have noticed has divided his characters based on their level of skepticism or knowledge of the mystical. Rex Van Ryn is highly skeptical but easy to convince as his knowledge about the esoteric arts is nil (his only interests in life being planes & women); Richard Eaton, another character is also highly skeptical & remains so for a great length of time because of his knowledge about many matters (he may not believe in Black Magic, but he is aware about the practices of Bhraminism, Buddhism & Taoism as mentioned in the book); His wife Marie Lou on the other hand due to her Russian background is quite a believer & is well informed about witches & vampires ; Simon Aron (who causes all the trouble in the first place) is a person ready to learn new subjects that can aid him personally (if not where his shares are concerned). The novel does not lose its grip on the reader & manages to convey its spine tingling fear across. We feel the ‘evil’ of the devil & long for the light of righteousness to prevail. The best part about the book is that….the reader may be from any intellectual background but the author through many authentic records makes the reader believe what HE wants the reader to believe.
Each chapter is well written & makes ones heart race. Two part of the novel which I want to highlight here are ‘The Sabbat’ & ‘Within The Pentacle’. Both resonate with suspense & horror beyond words…..the most grotesque form of terror possible…..the scariest part of it is that, such things do take place & that is marrow chilling enough which is escalated with the authors excellent narrating skills. From the two chapters mentioned above…the one that made my blood run cold was ‘The Sabbat’ especially the image of ‘The Goat Of Mendes’ that was described to perfection by the author.
On a scholarly note, the book is also a good way for a materialistic person to contemplate on the works of great writers of Theology & Philosophy. Although I myself am very much a reader of the fantastic, I realized through the ‘The Devil Rides Out’ that there were many works I still needed to get my hands on & read. The information in the book is a guaranteeing antidote to a person who likes a bit of mind work in his fiction.
But there is a moral in this work of art…..as stated by Wheatley himself through the person of De Richleau….one must not delve into something one does not know about…..especially not Black Magic. I am of the opinion that this statement in the book is very much in keeping with the theme & also is a practical suggestion on the whole…..although at first, it sounded a lot like a warning.
To conclude, I must state that the book is a masterpiece in its own right & is a must for ever reader to possess.

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