Revenant’s Hymn by Elliot Dunstan uses prose and poetry to construct a poignant narrative about adapting to changing times.
I received an ARC of Revenant’s Hymn from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Asmodeus, Mammon, Abbadon, and Belial try to adapt to life after their purpose. Originally summoned during the bombing of Berlin, these demons now live on Earth in the 1980s without their master. Without orders for what to do next, the four continue to survive day-to-day.
Asmodeus, however, wants to retain their otherworldly nature. Their siblings’ gradual divergence from usual routines like devouring humans disgust them. Mammon falls in love with a human woman instead of killing her. Abbadon, the only demon in a bestial form, befriends a human child. Belial cherishes the trinkets and moments she discovers in her travels. Asmodeus tries to resist giving into these earthly desires, but they eventually see that adapting doesn’t mean losing everything they are.
Elliot Dunstan thematically braids several storylines through prose and poetry. Prose poems and flash fiction pieces convey feelings of loss, loneliness, desperation, and more. The living, the ghosts, and the supernatural roam the world aimlessly or with unresolved guilt. The author effortlessly navigates through issues of domestic violence, suicide, sexual agency, and others.
The writing, beautiful and engaging, unfurls an intimate look at carnal desires and raw emotions. The fractures of a ghost, battling against doubt, and the psychological effects of sexual violence. And the author highlights people from the margins, including the disabled and neurodivergent.
Well structured and with captivating prose, Revenant’s Hymn offers a memorable narrative that untangles the desire and embrace of change.
Content warnings, including suicide and sexual violence, are listed in the book. If you’re struggling or know somebody who is contemplating suicide, please know that there is help. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. International Suicide Hotlines are available here.
Learn more about Elliott Dunstan here.
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.
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