Many readers of C. S. Lewis have enjoyed reading his Screwtape Letters, a series of correspondences between two demons, the instructor Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, as they attempt to secure the damnation of their human “patient.” As delightfully diabolical and insightful as Lewis’ work is, however, few writers have adopted his style of “apologetics-by-dialogue” from the beyond. That has all changed with Richard Platt’s As One Devil to Another.
As One Devil to Another combines the wit of a C.S. Lewis-esque perspective with a uniquely Christian worldview in shaping a truly delightful book. Following the pattern set down by C.S. Lewis, Platt pens a series of letters from a devilish mentor, Slashreap, to his fiendish nephew, Scardagger, on the intricacies of devilish temptation concerning his ‘client,’ a graduate student in literature. Through the perspective of Slashreap, Platt brilliantly outlines the Christian worldview in light of today’s concerns and temptations, all from the perspective of the ‘other side’ of the War in Heaven.
For those well acquainted with C.S. Lewis (and other Inklings, including J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams), there are several delicious moments of allusion and devilish satire on their behalf, an apt demonstration of the mastery that Platt exhibits in taking Lewis’ ideas and applying them to the 21sr Century. Letters from Slashreap to Scardagger tend to be topically oriented, with sections on love, literary studies, pride, the ‘Adversary,’ and a host of other topics providing a great deal of rich reading. The manner in which Platt approaches the materials in As One Devil to Another provides a two-fold approach to the narrative. One could easily read this book as a mere story, albeit told from a non-traditional perspective. On the other hand, the true beauty and value of this book would stem from a thoughtful reading of the various devilish remarks, off-handed, fearful, humorous, or otherwise.
Platt’s writing style smoothly fits his narrative. There are a few chapters or sections that seemed forced or tangential, but these are few and far in-between and are surrounded by such a rich perspective that they do not detract from the overall quality of the work. His integration of Christian ideals and morals with the modern context is borderline brilliant, and his use of the diabolical perspective is unparalleled since Lewis. Especially for C. S. Lewis admirers, but for Christian reader in general, this is a superb read. Having studied Lewis’ work at Oxford University and been a member of the Oxford Lewis and Inkling’s Society, I wholeheartedly agree with Walter Hooper’s assessment, that As One Devil to Another represents “a stunning achievement, the finest example of the genre of diabolical correspondence to appear since this genre was popularized by C.S. Lewis.”
I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.