Goodreads Synopsis: Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. But there are some problems that even the best advice can’t solve.
Her latest supplicant, Sebastian, is unique among those who have sought her aid. He sold his soul to a demon in exchange for his sister’s life, but his heart remains pure.
Carrie has lived for millennia with the knowledge that her immortality is due to the suffering of others, and she cannot bear to see another good man damned when it is within her power to prevent it.
In order to renegotiate his contract, Carrie must travel into the depths of hell and parley with the demons that control its pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice to save one good soul?
Author: Elizabeth Corrigan
Title: Oracle of Philadelphia
Publisher: Red Adept
Oracle of Philadelphia is a fun story with a dark undercurrent: is a soul worth saving if it has condemned itself, even if it did so by acts of love? Which, for a relatively short story, is a heavy theme to address.
Carrie can read people’s thoughts. She was born with the power, but paid the price when her village elders did a deal with Lucifer which resulted in people dead and Carrie immortal. Throughout her life, Carrie has come into contact with angels and demons alike.
Carrie is a likeable-enough character. She is determined to do the right thing, even if that means facing various types of hell to save just one soul. But despite the fact she has walked the earth practically since the beginning of time and is best friends with an ultra-cool demon, her character lacked something. It needed a spark, a flare that made me truly empathise with her, and I couldn’t find that connection.
He sat up straight and faced me. “Okay, so here’s my problem. You know how sometimes you start doing something, and it seems like a good idea at the time, but then suddenly there are dead bodies everywhere, and you’re not quite sure how that happened?”
Bedlam, on the other hand, had me cracking up from the beginning. His character is so refreshing; he says what he thinks and he doesn’t apologise for who he is. In a story that features a lot about God and archangels and souls, he was needed to keep the story light and fun. He was the anchor that Carrie needed to stop her powers from overwhelming her.
Both Gabriel and Sebastian have a strong impact on Carrie: they are a burst of sunshine for her, soothing her in a way she can’t explain. Considering that impact, you would expect them to be strong characters. But neither did a lot and appeared to be there just to make Carrie want to do the right thing, regardless of the cost.
There was a little too much of God in the story for me, as the all-loving figure with a plan for everyone. I completely respect everyone has their own belief, but the themes the story was addressing made it appear that the demons were stronger – it was Lucifer who ultimately saved Carrie from hell, not any of the angels. Michael declares Carrie is unfit to enter Heaven, despite her having no say in what happened to her as a child.
I’d be interested to see how those with strong beliefs feel about this book.
The narration switches between present day and Carrie’s past encounters with the archdemons she meets again in hell. The pace works for the book – knowing her past means the present interactions have more weight behind them.
I enjoyed this book – it made me laugh out loud (thanks, Bedlam) and I got through it quite quickly. That being said, it does leave you thinking about whether every soul is worth being saved and if evil is always that straightforward. For a short book, that is a big impact to have on a reader.
That being said, the first part was far more enjoyable while the second half had a “here-we-go-again” feel to it. Still, it scores good entertainment points.