Christopher was a scientist searching for proof of Hell’s existence when he disappeared in the dangerous and unpredictable underground tunnels. His sister Charlie (short for Charlotte) is desperate to reunite with him and puts together an expedition to search for Christopher. When a flood sweeps Charlie and her party into uncharted territory, the party must confront evidence that challenges their preconceived beliefs and notions.
Satania is a fast-paced horror story, where reason and belief struggle for dominance. Once the party is swept away, Satania carries the reader at a quick pace. As the cast pushes forward, the reader experiences increasingly weird places as Charlie and the other characters struggle to fit what they’re seeing into some sort of frame that suits their beliefs and worldview. The quick pace is balanced with the insertion of Charlie’s backstory, which provides some much needed pauses.
Translated from French, Satania is a plot-focused book, focused on the group’s journey. Characterization is less of a priority for the book. A few main characters—Charlie, Christopher, and the local priest Monsore—are the most clearly formed characters and main story drivers. Thanks to the backstory scenes, Charlie is the most fleshed out, and her drive and decisions contribute to the story’s direction. Other characters are more memorable for their death scenes than their personalities. That being said, the plot and bizarre settings, as portrayed, are gripping in their own right.
Satania’s gorgeous art excels at conveying the setting and setting the tone for the story. Kerascoët (a married couple who work together under a collaborative pseudonym) uses luminous colors to convey a cavernous world that is rich in detail. The landscape scenes and creature designs are organic and weird and fit well with the story’s tone. The art is possibly the best part of the book, and it is worth looking at Satania for that if nothing else.
Readers who love a good dark tale will likely enjoy Satania, and fans of Vehlmann and Kerascoët’s previous work, Beautiful Darkness, should definitely check this one out. Charlie is naked in later sections of the story and there is an implication that she slept with one of the demons. Given those two points, some grisly deaths, and the philosophical angle, Satania would likely be best for older teens and adults.
by Fabien Vehlmann
Art by Kerascoët