Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman is a short story I read in the Smoke and Mirrors anthology. The book is on loan from the library, but I wish I owned it.
To reintroduce the book you can see the previous post and review on the entire anthology, but this story deserved an entire post on its own. Since I will be talking about it pretty in-depth there will be some spoilers.
So, I didn't really like the beginning as it started in an unfortunate way, that would (I admit) turn most people off. I should mention here that this book is definitely not recommended for any younger teens out there, mainly for people 18+ depending on the individual. But despite the distasteful opening, this story really REALLY struck me.
It is a story that takes place while our universe is being created.
(That enough should have you going '...um...cool.')
It is told by an old man, who swears it's true, as he tells a younger guy, in payment for a cigarette.
We are led through the story by Raugel, (who's the old man), it starts when he is brought to life by Lucifer (Yes, that Lucifer) as the Vengeance of the Name. And he is instructed to find out who killed Carasel, another angel. We go through the story with him as he attempts to figure out who killed the angel. It isn't easy too really figure out who did it, this story kind of keeps you guessing for a while, and there are times when you think that it was either Lucifer or that Carasel just killed himself.
Carasel turns out to be a workaholic, and he really throws himself into his work, and at the time of his death he was involved with creating emotions for humans. Being human, I know how messy those can get, and it is easy to see how he would have become overwhelmed by the emotions.
So it was expected that Carasel would throw himself into the emotions he was working on, and we find out that Carasel, the angel that had died, convinced another angel to work on love with him, in a very intimate way, so together they work on love, and inevitably, end up lovers.
The other angel falls for him completely, keep in mind, I'm saying he here but there is actually no gender in the angel world, you kind of just guess it by their actions and values, anyways, Carasel's lover turns out to be unable to handle the stress involved with love, and when Carasel begins to work on Death, he kind of just forgets about his lover. Causing massive heartbreak and pain, and his lover, therefore takes his life, hoping that the pain caused by Carasel's neglect will suddenly disappear if he's dead.
It doesn't of course.
Anyone who knows even the most basic information about Christianity should know that Lucifer turns into the devil by disobeying--or (as it is stated) disagreeing with god!
So you may automatically assume that it was him who killed Carasel. The character of Lucifer is so utterly fascinating -I could go on and on about him.
The punishment for killing another Angel is death, which Raugel carries out, as he is the Vengeance of the Name, not many of the angels like it, most are scared of Raugel, even he doesn't like it, but Lucifer questions this! Lucifer is the only one that actually thinks about it. He feels it more wholly than any of the other angels, he believes that Carasel should have been helped, and yet, the Name (God, the Lord, I AM--whatever you wish to call him) the angels expect vengeance to be done, because Raugel, the Vengeance of the Name, was awoken, so it is apparent to the angels that Carasel being killed was just. But Lucifer doesn't believe so. And so starts his fall from grace. But God is there when it begins and when Raugel finds out about God being there, he says: 'Lucifer's journey will be the hardest of all.'
And yet, the character of god turns out to an angel that sits all day and dreams. I'm not joking. And to me it has always been that God as the Christian religion shows him is ludicrous, I've always believe that God was made in the image of man, not the other way around, and Lucifer was the most fascinating of all the characters.
Raguel, though we're led through the story by him, functions mainly robotic until the very end, when he meets the Name. Lucifer walks outside the boundaries of the Angels Kingdom as we find out, but not because he communes with the voices of snakes that live within them, because he tests himself, everyday, to improve upon his strength and faith, but than at the end he hints at his changed attitude after watching the other angel (the Lover of Carasel) die in honor of the Name. It seems that each angel does what they believe they are supposed to do, yet, Lucifer thinks independently and the Name is just that, a name, an original idea that created all this life--yet it isn't God, in fact, it seems God is just as human as us.
And, to bring me to the next point, this version of God, AMAZING! A million times better than anything I've read. He's not referred to as "God" (A concept I kind of hate due to many factors). He's referred to as the Name or occasionally Lord, but not as God. And the end version of him, basically as a supreme being, sitting and dreaming up the entire world is so almost humbling, and then when he sympathizes with Lucifer! WOW.
We've got Lucifer, treading the darkness to overcome it, yet we know he's going to fall. And even the Name knows that he will fall--but the thing is what the Name says, 'his path will be the hardest' is something that really struck me as wow. We all know people who have a harder life than what it is supposed to be, some of us, have it, some of us feel that our path is harder than the average person's. But it is also hinted that there is hope for redemption, there is hope as long as you don't loose yourself completely. Lucifer was the strongest of gods angels in folklore, but even the strongest can fall, its what happens after you fall that matters.
Lucifer wishes to help Carasel's Lover and than questions the Name.
Raguel, is swift judgement, robotic agreement.
Carasel, creative but oblivious.
Carasel's Lover, hurt, driven mad with pain, and a murderer--ill from pain--then dead.
And if you realize this, you may see that everything above is characteristics that any given person can have--we all have this possibility inside of us but what matters the most how we react to life--or the Name.
There is so much meaning within this story, surprising considering how short it was!
I loved it--so much. Maybe one of my favorites.
First of all, taken at face value, it is a story of archangels, the world they inhabit is as beautiful as it is fantastic But there is so much more to it than that.
At times, especially since the story of the angels is told by a man asking for a cigarette, it makes you feel that this entire story really could go both ways, sure, it could be that this man was an angel, whatever, it's fantasy sort of, but at the same time, this could be an entire battle happening in his head. Okay, holy sh*t!!
And, if you link that to what goes on inside an individual's head, you might feel that angel, god, heaven, hell, the devil, ect...all reside inside a human.
I loved this story.