The Saint of Bright Doors sets the high drama of divine revolutionaries and transcendent cults against the mundane struggles of modern life, resulting in a novel that is revelatory and resonant.
Fetter was raised to kill, honed as a knife to cut down his sainted father. This gave him plenty to talk about in therapy.
He walked among invisible powers: devils and anti-gods that mock the mortal form. He learned a lethal catechism, lost his shadow, and gained a habit for secrecy. After a blood-soaked childhood, Fetter escaped his rural hometown for the big city, and fell into a broader world where divine destinies are a dime a dozen.
Everything in Luriat is more than it seems. Group therapy is recruitment for a revolutionary cadre. Junk email hints at the arrival of a god. Every door is laden with potential, and once closed may never open again. The city is scattered with Bright Doors, looming portals through which a cold wind blows. In this unknowable metropolis, Fetter will discover what kind of man he is, and his discovery will rewrite the world.
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Chandrasekera debuts with a lyrical but sluggish fantasy following "chosen one" Fetter, son of Mother-of-Glory and her former husband, the Perfect and Kind. Mother-of-Glory trains Fetter as a "child soldier" in her war against his father and cuts off his shadow, enabling him to float and see devils, but leaving him feeling inhuman and disconnected. This changes when he moves to the city of Luriat and puts aside his mother's revenge quest to focus on attending a support group for "the unchosen, the almost-chosen, the chosen-proximate." Meanwhile, he studies the "bright door" phenomenon, mystical locked doorways that appear throughout the city. Fetter discovers that the doors are not as sealed as they seem, allowing demons to stream into the world—and that this is just one aspect of a worldwide problem with the Perfect and Kind at its center. There are some nifty ideas within Chandrasekera's worldbuilding, but the pacing is slow and more than a little odd: characters spend a lot of time talking at Fetter in the first third of the novel, and Fetter spends much of the last third imprisoned on the way to a murky climactic twist. The result is a meandering meditation on mind-body duality, fanaticism, and eschatology that will appeal only to fans of the most cerebral fantasies.