Any book that prominently displays the comment, “reminiscent of fellow slav Nicolai Gogol,” is going to attract my attention. Same goes for books about the Russian Civil War – an oftentimes overlooked (by Americans) and insanely violent part of Russian history. Plus, this book is not just about the Civil War – in which the Whites and the Reds competed to see who could commit the most atrocities – it’s about Satanism. And somehow, it works. Of course, Russia is a country with a definite devil fascination, which might strike some Americans as odd, but hey, MOST things about Russia strike Americans as odd. Hell, I was just there and there were few things that did not seem bizarre – including a Paul McCartney concert on Red Square during which he sang Back in the USSR not once, but TWICE. But I digress.
Kapralov creates a great bizarre tale, very much in the tradition of Gogol’s earlier folktales. (Note to punks: Read Gogol.) Lots of dreams, satanic rituals, and bloodshed. Great characters. Plus, Kapralov understands that people often end up fighting in wars almost by accident. All of the characters seem to fall into the middle of a huge mess. No questions of ideology here. Sometimes Kapralov overuses clichés, but most of the time it’s just the product of his folk tale style.
Devil’s Midnight is just one of a number of great books Akashic has published lately. Putting out underground non-fiction is hard enough. Putting out underground fiction is almost impossible. I know enough punks, myself included, who read way more non-fiction than fiction. Devil’s Midnight and Akashic Books are a good reason for that to change. –Maddy (Akashic Books)