Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley. It’s alternate history come historical and biographical fiction.
Ian Thornton’s debut novel, The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms (How One Man Scorched the Twentieth Century, but Didn’t Mean to) was published by Simon & Schuster Canada in September 2013. Harper Collins published worldwide on June 28th 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the pivot of the novel. It was translated across Europe and taught at the Sorbonne.
Prior to becoming a novelist, Ian worked for Broadcast magazine in London and also for Variety. He is a co-founder of the global television industry publisher, C21 Media and http://www.c21media.net.
He covered the Royal wedding in London for CTV, Canada’s premier independent broadcaster, and has recently written for Wisden Cricketer, The Guardian, The Hindu and for the Soho House magazine, House. He also wrote on the football World Cup in South Africa for the Canadian sports channel, The Score, and has worked for Queen’s University in Ontario, where his project was presented at the White House as part of President Obama’s new media initiative.
Ian is the official biographer of the Compton cricket club in California and has been a judge on the largest Latin American film festival, Expresion en Corto. He is currently producing a feature documentary.
Originally from Leeds, Ian currently resides in Toronto with his wife Heather Gordon and their children, Laszlo and Clementine.
About the book
Aleister Crowley – otherwise known as the Great beast – is one of the most reviled men in history. Satanist, cult leader, debauched novelist and poet, his legacy has been hotly contested for decades.
But the truth is: Crowley is alive and well, in the elevated and life-preserving air of Shangri-la. they used to call him the wickedest man in the world, but the Great Beast only laughs at those fools. the British Secret Service, Churchill and Rasputin all knew the real Crowley, who was the greatest spy and the Scarlet Pimpernel of the twentieth century. this genuine English hero and unrivalled drug fiend used his pre-eminent knowledge of the Occult to run amok behind German lines in two world wars and to turn both Mussolini and Hitler into twitching and hollow wrecks.
And so now, the inspiration behind the music and sexual revolutions of the sixties is about to return for his curtain call, for there is a dark Orwellian dystopia coming. And Aleister Crowley is convinced that only he can save the world.
‘There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt. Love is the law, love under will.’ The problem with people who believe their own myth is that they can be dangerous, and also very convincing. Crowley was like many charismatic people who like to shower themselves in the admiration of others. Creating his own set of rules, guidelines and morals in order to excuse his own lack of adherence to any the aforementioned dictated by society.
If you read between the lines I think Thornton allows a window into the relationships, events and experiences that could have shaped Aleister into the man he became. Although hidden behind the sarcastic meanderings and a seemingly nonchalant attitude Crowley has towards his childhood and experiences as a young man, the scared and vulnerable child shines through. Neglect, abuse and association with adults who would rather use than guide the child, all of those things define the young boy and meld him into the grown man he becomes.
The suggestion being that we only ever see the surface and can never know what a person has been defined by. It puts a different slant or perspective on the historical version of Crowley, albeit one based on a fictional narrative.
The concept is quite clever and allows for a multitude of scenarios and storylines. There seemed to be a slight fixation on the sexual side of the story. The way the abuse as a child was smoothed over and led straight into the manipulative sexual rituals of certain groups, was slightly disconcerting.
It’s an ambitious piece of work, there’s no doubt about that. I enjoyed the style and the writing. It’s alternate history come historical and biographical fiction.
Buy The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound; pub date 22 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.