Even Hell, with its collections of tortures and assortments of flame, can get dull after a while. So demon Basil leaves his realm and heads to fresher climes, the Cornhusker State of Nebraska. There, this gigantic hellion with horns and hooves lands a job in advertising and starts to build relationships with the locals. But not all want to give their new neighbor a friendly welcome: a band of bikers and the town's resident religious fundamentalist stand ready to make Basil's new life on Earth a living hell. The novel is strongest when playing on the absurdity of its central premise: a demon ginning up slogans for ag-state clients yields some funny moments (although there are repeated examples of rape and bathroom humor that might put off some readers). The transitions to serious scenes of violence are a little strained by comparison, but the creative plotting and plentiful humor make for an enjoyable work of satire. ~ Chicago Public Library, Review
Burn Beautiful Soul is the first novel by author William Donahue and is an uneasy blend of the wildly imaginative and self-conscious cleverness, melding horror tropes with hipster cool.
The main character is a demon named Basil who rules a bloody underworld called Our Fiery Home. Basil tires of the constant stream of atrocities in his claustrophobic subterranean kingdom and, plagued by dreams/memories of another life, he goes to the surface to see what the world above is like.
He winds up in Nebraska and, after a skirmish with bikers which involves dismemberment and a stolen bike, Basil settles in the sleepy town of Beak and begins working as a copywriter. That Basil is a giant-horned sartyr who wanders around naked doesn’t seem to faze the people he encounters, apart from the good Christians who decide he should go back where he came from.
There are incidental pleasures in the dry tone and essential quirkiness of the novel’s central premise with its casual acceptance of a demon walking around small-town America.
~ Aurealis #137 , Review
The writing style is clear and fluid, his descriptions are both evocative and imaginative, and the dialogue in particular works hard to propel the reader onwards ~ Starburst, Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Dark and disturbing, gripping and fascinating. Even if it's out of my comfort zone I appreciated this creepy and interesting book. Recommended. ~ Anna Maria Giacomasso (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A raw and gritty experience that leaves you questioning just who the demon may really be, one bearing horns and hooves, or the one of flesh and blood living next door? The story of Basil begins in Our Fiery Home, where he is feeling discontent with the dull surroundings of fire and brimstone, and yearns for a change of scenery, particularly that of the human world. He decides to leave his throne of power as the King of Our Fiery Home, and embarks on a journey to find more during his seemingly eternal life compared to human standards. Leaving behind all he has ever known; murder, torture, darkness, he begins his quest to find beauty in the world. Upon arrival to the surface, he quickly encounters a gang of vicious bikers in which he defends himself, and quickly makes himself a mark to the fiends walking the surface. Enduring many hardships during his visit to the surface, he is shown compassion and sheer abhorrence for the mere look of himself. Though an articulate and thoughtful individual, Basil finds that there are many changes he must make when he returns to his throne, and realizes that the beauty of the surface, while quite incredibly, certainly has its own flaws. A great raw, gritty, and insightful read about the human perspective through the eyes of a demon, that is sure to have you turning the page non-stop from start to finish. ~ Martin Van Beek (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Dark, twisted and evil in all the right ways. This is not my usual type of book but I felt intrigued by the opening and glad I finished it. Definitely worth a read if you fancy something different ~ Raisha Hayes (Reviewer), NetGalley
Within the confines below lives demons, creatures, non-humans and species so heinous you would not want to ever get near them for fear of what might happen to you or what you might catch. The bugs, the vermin, the excrement, the dire conditions below the surface where those that live in the Fiery world reside, spend their days either killing others, ripping them apart or worse. Basil rules this kingdom and often watches the devastation, the cruelties and the disgusting conditions they live in without any regard for their non-human lives or horrific existences. As the demon king, Basil watches his world and decides he no longer wants to rule this horrific kingdom and plans to find another place to reside. The horrors and atrocities he has committed to keeping in control he begins to ponder about, but does he feel guilty? Finding himself wanting to go to the surface, he decides to live among the humans. First, placing his rule in the hands of Kamala, his second in command but not realizing her true thoughts and underestimating her goals as she too wants the power and if he returns will destroy him.
Finding himself above the group he meets some oddballs to start. A biker gang and their minions, a religious zealot and his encounter in a bar with some oddballs leaves two dead and Basis having to run or shall we say motorcycle to safety. As he succumbs to sleep dreams fill his mind as he once walked the earth as a human, and then went to the underworld, then wanting to go back. But, his troubles have just begun, and someone wants his title and even though Kamala seeks it. There are others who will join in the fight. A cunning foe, a monstrous kraken and an ancient evil as cold as ice. As you get to know each creature, endure the pain inflicted upon them and realize that this is a story, of despair, hopelessness, fear, hate, unhappiness and enlightening you to the unsentimental dissection of America and its people.
The feces, the skin, blood, the torn limbs, the fragments of life that abide inside each of the characters besides the dirty, and disease-ridden places they reside, are just part of each of their journeys living in limbo and nowhere. Basil arrives above the fiery home and finds himself the object of hate, ridicule, destruction, harm, and worse called a demon. Just wanting to see how humans live, he wants to become part of some type of life, trying to find a place for himself and then the fight, the two deaths and then a job as a copywriter working with Herbert and thinking for the first time that his thoughts and ideas would be appreciated by a boss, who just wants him to come up with ads and make his business not die. But, his dreams are told to the reader as another character named Emmitt who leaves his wife, and his life to find his niche and make money but as we get to hear his voice he spends his time digging ditches, menial life and going nowhere. Down below Kamala and her chief advisor face the wrath of Lubos and what is done to both of them is horrific as he too just wants to rise above the rest, not allow her to create an environment of no fighting or fear as he feels the creatures, demons and the lowlifes within this fiery world relish the pain, taking each other apart and then sending them to their own bloody death and doom.
Basil, Lubos, Kamala, Emmitt and even Melody are all trying to find where they belong. Kamala is facing the horrors inflicted on her by the demons and Lubos. Basil dreams of being elsewhere and having another life and being someone else. Dealing with life with humans, the sunshine, the darkness at night that haunts him and Herbert as a friend in Beak the town where he works, Melody the lawyer who comes to his defence when Edna decides to take him down. He is stereotyped for his appearance, thought to be dangerous and hurtful and yet even though he might look like a demon there is something so warm and lovable about Basil. You must feel safe around him if anyone dares to come at you. But, decisions are made, lives end but not in the way you think in the Fiery Home or in the world above as Basil decides that he does not belong with humans, does he belong below? Where does he wind up?
A story about acceptance, survival, despair, revenge, power, struggle, independence and hope. A story that anyone can identify with when you feel the odd man out and need to be accepted for who you are.
Basil explains why he left Our Fiery Home and how he crawled his way to the surface, describes his shortlist of characters that came into his life, Kamala and Lubos, Calvin, the Elders in the Council of Unerring Wisdom and the ghosts of those who ruled the underworld prior to his rise. Herbert his newfound friend listened and a strong friendship was born. Through Basil, the author explains to Herbert what happens when his life ends but first they talk about why anyone would live in Beak. Working got Bulcavage as a copywriter was just as stop-gap to where Basil hoped to wind up but for now, this is really where he wanted to be. Dreams haunted him as he became the voice of Emmitt again, leaving his wife, hoping for a good life but some dreams turn into nightmares.
Herbert is so enthralled with Basil they even talk about the afterlife, Heaven, Hell and in between and the power to stay alive. The bond is strong but in Basil’s world, nothing is forever. Not everyone wants him around and demons do not belong in the human world and even though he is not dangerous unless threatened, Edna Babych wants him gone and has devised a plan to eliminate him. She has her own group in place hoping to take him down, but even Fang and Claw cannot defeat Basil.
Sometimes a person, demon, in this case, realizes that he belongs where he started out from at the beginning as an imp, named Boothe comes from Our Fiery Home and warns him of the plan Lubos has set in motion. Imagine if all the demons below come up to the earth above, kill, maim and worse and destroy both our world and that of the Our Fiery Home below. When stepping back into his old world what happens will defy all odds, will shock readers and make you wonder if there is such a thing as coming back from the dead. Lubos vs. Basil and the unleashing of the Eternal One that could set things in a direction that Basil will have to stop. Some endings are strange beginnings and author William L. Donahue takes us inside Basil’s mind, feelings actions and his verses that describe his moods and thoughts in a graphically depicted way so that we can see inside his mind. What happens when he faces off with Lubos? Will Kamala be true to him or will she betray him? Some endings are new beginnings and some worlds are changed as Basil has to decide his place, how if at all he wants to rule and then what about those that are above?
A story that will get you thinking about how we as humans deal with people that are different than us, looks, actions, faces, colors and more and realize that there are lessons in life to be learned as we all learn the true meaning of this title: BURN BEAUTIFUL SOUL!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews ~ Just Reviews, Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This was really enjoyable. Basil was a fascinating character, certainly very morally ambiguous, and I loved watching his journey in the human world. ~ Leanne C (Reviewer), NetGalley
My first NetGalley read and WOW. Absolutely beautiful descriptors. A nice slow burn. Reminded me so much of Horns, I definitely chuckled a few times. The ending is fantastic and exactly what I wanted it to be. ~ Alyssa Robbins (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. One hell of an anti-hero! Can you like him? Pity him? Hate him? Root for him? Or maybe all of the above. The author does an excellent job of portraying "Hell" as a place of horrors, with crafty use of implied combined with enough detail to make you cringe. No romanticizing the depths here. Interesting flip with Basil wanting out and wanting beauty, and getting above ground to see hate just as strong as below - a slight philosophical message floating around. I kept thinking of Hellboy if he'd stayed below ground. Not for the timid, some very violent scenarios, but a good story and definitely non-typical characters. Here's an author to watch. ~ BONITA SOLEY (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This was a really enjoyable read, I liked the story and the characters. The cover drew me into reading this and I'm glad I did. I look forward to more from the author. ~ Kay McLeer (Reviewer), NetGalley
Burn, Beautiful Soul is an imaginative, literary horror novel. At times unnerving and unsettling, Donahue’s prose is as beautiful as it is frightening, wielded with a touch soft enough to give the reader a feeling of vulnerability. Donahue reminds us that Hell isn’t just a place - it’s what we make of those places we call home. He has written a masterful novel that fans of Christopher Moore and Joe Hill are sure to fall in love with. ~ H.A. Callum, author
Basil the demon, nine feet of muscle, fur, claw and fang, escapes from Hell, eager find a better world. The world he finds is ours. But is it better? He finds crass exploitation, abuse, and murder. He finds beauty in nature, and innocence and generosity in the hearts of friends. He finds the troubled and topsy-turvy world we know, a place so deranged that even a demon can fit in. For a while. Basil is not an innocent. He is a demon king, with baggage of his own. He kills the first two people he meets. His clumsy attempts at romance are touching but catastrophic. Eventually, his past and our world's intolerance collide in a violent and shocking climax.
Burn, Beautiful Soul is The Wizard of Oz with a demon Dorothy. It is Camus's The Stranger of late capitalism. It is a loving but unsentimental dissection of America and its people. It is a story you will never forget. ~ John Schoffstall, author
Some books stay with a reader long after they're read. Burn, Beautiful Soul is one of them. Donahue's strong, clever narrative delivers a truly unique and entertaining story. The reader believes Basil, believes in Basil, and wants this monstrous demon to succeed as he walks among us. It's' Stranger in a Strange Land' for literary horror enthusiasts. ~ Chris Bauer, author of Binge Killer, Hiding Among the Dead, Scars on the Face of God and Jane's Baby
All hell breaks loose when an oversized demon bursts from the bowels of the earth to become an advertising exec in the American Midwest. Such is the ingenuity of William J. Donahue, whose often unearthly characters manage to reveal much about the human condition. An imaginative farce. ~ Don Swaim, author