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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/17/2008 Archived Entry: "e-Book review: Dancing on the Head of a Pin"

Dancing on the Head of a Pin
by Kiernan Kelly
Printed in the USA by Torquere Press, Copyright 2007

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Would you give up your immortal soul for eternal love? How about just a piece of it? That's what happens when Malak meets Cael, one fine morning in the infamous city of Sodom. Malak is a beautiful, black-haired angel, one of the seraphim sent to punish the ungodly people of that wicked city, and Cael is a handsome blond demon who enjoys sneaking out of hell to revel in the pleasures of the flesh, which is what Sodom and her sister city Gomorrah specialized in.

On the day that Sodom and Gomorrah are scheduled to be obliterated by fire and brimstone, Malak, still new to human form, accidentally witnesses the gangbang of a male prostitute in the marketplace, right below the window of Lot's house, where he and the rest of his angelic brethren are gathering for the attack. He gets so turned on by the sight that he has to masturbate to relieve the tension caused by these new feelings. So when the attack on Sodom goes down, so does Malak, too weakened by his orgasm to dodge the fireball that clips his wings, sending him falling to the ground to scream and cry for mercy along with all the panic-stricken humans.

Knowing that if he dies in his human form without being absolved of his sin, he will be unable to return to Heaven, Malak does not refuse the helping hand offered by Cael, who flies off with him just in time. But when a demon rescues an angel, he gets to choose a contest. If he wins the contest within three millennia, the angel has to share a piece of his soul with the demon. The lucky demon then gets to live among us mortals until the End of Days, or the proverbial End of The World as We Know It. Since Cael is warm for Malak's form from the moment he sees him, he chooses sex for his contest, the thing that he knows he is best at, confident that Malak will not be able to refuse him.

True to his angelic nature, Malak plays hard to get at first. He escapes from Cael at the first opportunity and hides in a cave for a hundred years. But eventually he gets lonely and comes out. Cael finds him and persuades him to come live with him instead, reminding him that they're both alone among the mortals. "You know that I will keep trying to seduce you, and I know that you will resist me, but other than that one small conflict can we not live in peace together?" the demon asks reasonably. Unable to refute this argument, Malak agrees to come live with him, but not be his love. So they share habitats and lives for the next three millennia, with Cael constantly teasing, taunting and tempting the angel to hook up, and Malak refusing him, determined to go home to Heaven with his soul intact.

Things go on like this until the present day, when Cael receives a visit from his old boss, the demon Asmodai, a hideous creature who always smells of sulfur and decaying flesh, with three heads-one human, one ram, one bull—and a snake for a cock. He's hot for Cael's body and can't resist boasting about how soon he's going to get him, now that his time on Earth is nearly up and he still hasn't seduced Malak. He also claims that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been released and the End of Days is coming soon.

After learning this, it doesn't take long for Cael to convince Malak to give him a sympathy fuck, thereby saving him from Asmodai, but the trauma of losing part of his soul makes Malak think that Cael only fucked him to get part of his soul, not because he really cared about him. It seems Angel Boy has been in love with his demon since the first time he saw him, but was afraid to admit it till now. Of course this complicates things, but they get straightened out after Asmodai pays a visit to Malak behind Cael's back to tell him some lies so he can break them up. The demon and the angel drive out Asmodai together and then join forces to save the Earth from the Apocalypse. The first thing they have to do is identify the Four Horsemen in their now human forms, with a little help from above.

Whether you take religion seriously or not (and if you do, why are you reading an erotic e-book?), you're sure to love this story. Kiernan Kelly strikes just the right balance between reverence and revelry when he writes about the sacred and profane, even opening his chapters with biblical quotations to show you which Horseman our heroes are pursuing now. His offbeat humor reminds me of one of my favorite authors, a local boy named Patrick Thomas, author of the Murphy's Lore series, who also writes about mystical and legendary things with humor and loving detail. Most religious people don't have much of a sense of humor; they're so dead serious about religion they believe that even the mildest joke about sacred things will earn you a one-way ticket to Hell. They also believe that all same-sex relationships are damned by their very nature. But Kelly holds a more enlightened viewpoint, namely that God is willing to overlook sins of the flesh if there is true love in the relationship. This makes sense to me; after all, He created the world out of love, didn't He? So why shouldn't he go easy on lovers, regardless of gender or species. Kelly also believes that Satan is not the opposite of God, but of Saint Michael the Archangel, who defeated him in battle and cast him out of heaven eons ago. Kelly even suggests that Satan and Michael are twin brothers, working on opposite sides of the spiritual fence. I'm willing to go along with this, since the story is so entertaining and so believable as well.

Malak and Cael make an odd couple, but they're willing to work together to save the world they live in, so they can be together in it for as long as possible. The way they go about it is as original as their relationship. One of the funniest parts of this story is reading about Malak decked out in his traditional heavenly chain mail and sword to do battle with evil, since he's a good guy and has to follow the rules, while Cael, who's a bad guy and doesn't have to follow any stinking rules, dresses up like a commando and carries more contemporary weapons, like a Luger and a Skorpion submachine gun. Between them they manage to locate the First Horseman, who's posing as a preacher in Atlanta, a televangelist with a huge following urging people to smite the sinners in their midst, the blasphemers, the fornicators and the sodomites, and anybody who doesn't believe the same way they do. The white horse on the banner behind his pulpit is a dead giveaway, as is the Latin motto beneath it, "Suus ira est puter" or "His wrath is loosed".

The other three Horsemen of the Apocalypse are also in contemporary disguises. The Red Horseman is a rock musician, a cross between Jim Morrison of the Doors and Gene Simmons of KISS, whose music literally slays people. The Black Horseman is the head of a popular fast food corporation similar to McDonalds, but with a toxic ingredient added to his burgers, fries and shakes which makes ordinary food poisoning look no worse than a case of diarrhea. And the final Horseman, Death, rides a pale horse, which is a shiny steel motorbike. Yep, there's something for everybody in "Dancing on the Head of a Pin", from traditional Fundamentalists to freethinking liberals. I liked this book for more than just the sex, and I think you will too.

Available directly from Torquere Press. Read here for an excerpt.

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