Necessary Evil and the Greater Good by Adam Ingle

Published: 19th June 2014
Goodreads badgePublisher: The Dead Regime
Pages: 280
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review

For best friends Mestoph and Leviticus the end of the world can’t come fast enough. Mestoph is a demon and troublemaker for Hell Industries, while Leviticus is an angel and cubicle jockey for Heaven, Inc. They might be unlikely friends, but they have something in common – they both hate their jobs. 

Unfortunately for them The End is nowhere in sight. The two take matters into their own hands when they come up with a scheme to get themselves kicked out of the Afterlife without spending an eternity in Purgatory. Their misadventure will take them from the tiny town of Truth or Consequences, NM to the highlands of Iceland as they cross paths and pantheons with Neo-Vikings, Greek and Norse Gods, and a Scottish terrier named Sir Reginald Pollywog Newcastle III.

Religions and gods collide in this wonderful story filled with secrets, intrigue, and a surprising amount of reality. Ingle’s self published novel offers a side to angels, demons, religion and the afterlife that was not only completely unexpected, but also one that is clever and funny as well.

What seems like a simple plan between an angel and demon soon becomes a mass endeavour as plans go awry and there are morals and issues to contend with. You see the strength of characters in what they have to endure and through it all you get a great enjoyment and even a few laughs as the absurdities makes you forget the fact a serious matter is at hand and a lot is at stake. There are some wonderful surprises to discover as you read, not just the big ones, but the little ones as well. The unexpected nature of a character, the cameos and people who turn up, and even the language and dialogue can hold surprises.

One thing I did enjoy was the friendship between Leviticus and Mestoph. Their common goal and their long lasting friendship was a wonderful part of the story; not only in how they worked together, but in their conversations. What I loved was how Ingle has a way of making conversations between characters seem not only natural, but strangely realistic in unrealistic circumstances. Despite the nature of the story, the whole thing actually never felt unbelievable, there is a great realism in the story, something I was not expecting, but really came to enjoy.

Ingle has written a clever, funny, engaging, and fast paced novel that makes you laugh and makes you curious about the characters and the story but you cannot ignore the fact that there is a clear tampering with established notions of various religions. Some I feel coming across more positively than others in a few cases. There is a strong sense of irreverence throughout this book, something you can’t ignore. However being someone who is not religious I was surprised but not offended, but I know many other people have a strong belief or respect for the religion shown in this book and I can easily see how Ingle’s representation of key religious figures may not sit well with others.

While there is no slander per se, the representations of figures such as God and St Peter, as well as some of the events in this book are quite different than how they are typically portrayed. As I say, I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed that these figures were completely different than what I was expecting from them, even knowing the tone of the book they still surprised me. I loved that Ingle took such a chance in portraying them as he did, it only added to the story in my opinion.

In having the ancient and current religions collide there is a chance to understand more about the myths pertaining to each belief as well. As a lover of Greek mythology I was really impressed Ingle made a point to highlight the fact Hades is not the Greek equivalent of Satan. I also loved the explanation given about how each religion became and receded from being the dominate belief system. In that respect Ingle has developed a believable and understandable world and in doing so makes the events realistic in their own way.

Away from that there is a fast paced novel involving NeoVikings, and a Scottish Terrier called Sir Reginald Pollywog Newcastle III, or Sir Regi, and the two humans, Marcus and Stephanie, who must work together and trust what their angel and demon companions tell them. I really enjoyed each character, they were unique, and interacted with one another in a realistic manner, I did think though that Marcus and Stephanie did not get as much in-depth development as the others. They played their roles well, but I never felt there was a lot beneath their exteriors; even minor characters seemed to be more complicated on occasion. Stephanie is a strong character though who comes into her own and shows us a bit more of her personality, but given how well I felt Mestoph, Leviticus, even Sir Regi were portrayed, there seemed to be something missing with those two.

I enjoyed this book because it was funny, it had interesting characters, and there was an engaging and intriguing approach taken to the ideas of The End, religions old and new, and the light-hearted approach overall to what is naturally a sensitive subject. A new interpretation on what is clearly a current religion, as well as those from the past is always interesting if done well. Seeing how people interpret the stories and figures from not just the Bible but Greek and Norse mythology can make for an interesting story, something Ingle has done well. The frank nature of the characters and the storyline is one that makes the world of angels and demons interesting, modern, and enjoyable, and one that is not always so pious, holy, or innocent.

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