Breaking the Devil’s Heart
Logic of Demons, Book #2
By H.A. Goodman
Review brought to you by OBS staff member Annabell Cadiz
When Stewart Willoughby was murdered, he wasn’t only surprised to find there was an afterlife, but to find out Heaven and Hell aren’t as clean cut as people expect. Heaven seems to be more at war with itself than with the Devil and Hell acts more like a claustrophobic office run by a psychopathic boss with demons dressed in suits. The last thing Stewart planned was to become a vigilante for a secret service type group called the Observers, who are determined to save human souls whether Heaven or Hell agrees with their tactics or not. Joining Stewart on his quest to end evil is his girlfriend Layla O’Toole, who’s got a blunt mouth and an attitude to back it up.
Stewart and Layla join forces with Franklin, Demonic Sales Manager for Satan’s army of soul hungry minions, to seek out a way to destroy Satan once and for all. But Stewart soon realizes that trusting demons comes with a price and good and evil aren’t as straight forward as one would think.
Between kidnapping demons for information, dodging attacks from Satan’s misfits, being thrown back in time and being sought after by an all too familiar angel, Stewart and Layla get thrown into an oncoming war with a vengeance. Why is Satan so determined to stop them? Why is Heaven so silent on the issue? And what will happen to the balance between good and evil if the ultimate depiction of evil is taken out of the equation?
That’s what Stewart would like to know.
If he can survive long enough to find out that is.
John Milton once wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven,” and there isn’t a quote, I think, that captures the world of Breaking the Devil’s Heart quite so well. A world caste in fantasy and supernatural characters, the book is driven more by the grand idealisms we have as humans and the intimate fears and regrets that can destroy us. A book fraught with action, love, betrayal, pain, and the desperate need to believe in what is right above all else, readers are thrown into a story as thought provoking as it is moving.
As per usual with Goodman, he jumps head long into a massive plot without holding back in his opinions of both religion and society. The cast set to play the roles of teachers as well as villains are richly colorful and incredibly terrifying. There’s also a sense of vulnerability with each of the characters, even with the villains, which is no small feat to accomplish.
One of the big elements that differentiate the second installment in Goodman’s Logic of Demons Series, is the fact that the story is told from the perspective of one character instead of multiple ones. It’s one of the elements I really loved about the book because it gives readers the chance to bond closely with the male lead, Stewart. Stewart approaches his journey with zeal and naiveté, ready to take on whatever comes with a mixture of nerdiness and sarcasm. He became my favorite character right off the bat.
There are numerous characters that make an appearance throughout the book so I won’t name them all but each character is developed well with strong and relatable qualities, even the sinister ones of the bunch. Three of my favorites were Franklin, Teddy, and Adrian. Franklin and Ted McNally are demons, each with his own agenda and with a need to prove himself. Franklin is British, polished, and sophisticated. Between worrying about his attire, mocking Stewart every chance he gets, and delivering his own blows to Stewart’s plan, I was either laughing or wanting to take down Franklin myself. It was a love/hate relationship between us. Teddy is way too chipper it’s scary, he’s optimistic, and positive but deep down it’s really just a mask for how unstable he actually is. Adrian is sweet, charismatic, and laid back. I love the way he was portrayed in the book. He isn’t the way a person would normally expect an angel to look like and that made his character even more relatable.
The subject matter is heavy and dark, Goodman isn’t afraid to explore the hard hitting truths a lot of people usually shy away from. The message presented through the book—evil cannot be blamed on an invisible hand as much as on our own actions and we have to learn to take responsibilities for said actions—is a constant through the scenes as the plot progresses. Goodman showcases universal flaws within religion, culture, and individuals. The message is heartbreaking, inspiring, and bold.
One of the aspects I love about the Logic of Demons books is the presentation of Hell as a massive office echoing the craziness of a stock exchange and the mind-numbing boredom that comes with working in one. Also, the fact that demons look and act so human. Heaven isn’t exactly bothering to stop Satan as one would expect and is apparently undergoing some crazy mutiny. The story is engaging from the moment you start reading and is solid.
Even though Goodman’s opinions presented throughout the book aren’t written with a judgmental attitude but painted with history and wisdom, there are moments they can feel a bit repetitive. The dialogue in the second installment flows much better than its predecessor but still has some moments where it comes off feeling awkward and doesn’t fully sit well.
Whatever the flaws though in Breaking the Devil’s Heart, they can be overlooked because the story is authentic and real, the concept is original, and the world is executed well. Underneath the power, the time travel, the supernatural characters, is a heartbeat and a story that will stay with you long after you finish.