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The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley

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Member Reviews

An interesting fictional biography of the life of one of the 20th century's most enigmatic and misunderstood men; Aleister Crowley. I don't think this book will necessarily put right any misconceptions or win him any new fans but it's certainly a weird and entertaining take on an odd man of history.
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This book was not what I expected. I was entranced by the cover and the blurb spoke to me but unfortunately it was just not the book I was looking for. 

Do not mistake my meaning. This book has wonderful literary prose and flipping the Aleister Crowley story on its head was an inspired concept. 

I expected something a little more satanic, 

If however you are a lover of literary prose and don't mind the odd bible quote then I would recommend it. My personal taste is not this advanced and so I didn't manage to finish the book. Which is a pity as I like the idea that (spoiler) 

Crowley's life was misjudged by others and he was not evil at all. I think this was just a case of wrong reader wrong book rather than a  "good" or "bad" book.
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DNF 20%

If you're in the market for a Forrest Gump / Aleister Crowley mashup, then look further ... much much further than this book.  It had the potential to be a bloody brilliant madcap tale, and instead it was just soooooo boring.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC.
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I really enjoyed a great many things about this book. Characters were fleshed out and the plot was well spaced. Some of the secondary storylines could've used a bit more page space but all in all an enjoyable read!
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I requested this book for review because I was intrigued by the premise: that the historical Aleister Crowley was actually a British spy and played a part in various world events. Alas, the narrative focused heavily on Crowley's sexual exploits, drug usage, and involvement with various cults, to the near-exclusion of anything that really interested me. The spy stuff seemed tacked on as an occasional afterthought. As a result, the book lacked any semblance of a dramatic arc or suspense, and the characters were uniformly distasteful to me. (As a note, the narrative conflates actual historical fact with items now proven to be propaganda forgeries, so the whole thing should be taken as unreliable -- it is, after all, fiction.)

All in all, consistent historical tone but otherwise disappointing.
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This book was absolutely fascinating! I’ve read some about Crowley, but have been interested to learn more. This is fiction, however there is some fact in there and it was difficult to distinguish the fact from the fiction. This book was a hell of a ride, and I’m glad that I went along for it!
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I didn't find the story interesting and the main character did not have any redeeming traits. I tried several times to read the book and could not finish it.
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I requested the book without hesitation through Netgalley based on the promise of an interesting alternative take on this historical figure, based on the cover, based on the fact that I would find it personally unacceptable if I didn’t read it. But before I started reading this title, the reviews and the average rating on Goodreads filled me with fear of god. It wasn’t looking too damn good, at all. 
In conclusion upon finishing the book, I found that as there was a lot of eventful life as well as other historical events to cover off, it was maybe slightly too much by the end. At least for me. Thing is- the further the story got along, and whilst I still found each instance of a note-worthy milestone interesting, I was getting worn out by colourful picture the author was painting. 

Having said that, the aforementioned was my only criticism during the whole of this reading experience. I found the writing to be lovely and rich, as fitting for our main character, as well as the settings and scenes wonderfully engaging. The air of occult hangs in the air because in the back of your head you know Crowley is somewhat of a shadowy figure. It is all the more amplified by the fact that profanity has not been redacted and some of these poems in the story could make a more sensitive reader’s toes curl in distaste. 

But all in all, what mysterious, wonderful, eclectic journey. Again, I am no Crowley-expert so I am unfortunately unable to draw any lines about what has been recorded about him in reality and what was portrayed in the book to give you a proper comparison. The little I do know is that, in non-fictional terms he should creep the bejeebus out of you for being a creepy magic-practising Satanist with a healthy appetite in experimental drug use, sexual pleasures with both men and women and for not practising his spirituality quietly in the corner somewhere and instead using his ‘world view’ for social criticism. In fictional terms, when it comes to this book, he’s just … a larger than life character, a type of hero who accepts the downfall of his character for the greater good. And yes, he still loves to shag both ways and get zonked on jungle juice but in this story, his ‘sins’ are balanced out with his mission to do good in the world. 

For anyone who enjoys an alternative take on history, this book could be truly interesting. World Wars are covered, Hitler is in the picture as well as Churchill, Rasputin and the Christian fundamentalist group Plymouth Brethren. Hells’ bells, there’s even Shangri La in this book. The historical alternatives are peppered with scenes of earthy, pagan/occultist undertones adding atmosphere and further entertainment. 

The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley is at times a drug-fuelled, sex-driven fantasy romp on the timeline of past, as much as an alternative case study of Aleister’s character and life that covers the entirety of his life, including his relationships with his parents, his lovers, his friends. His life dissected by chapters as we count down to his ‘return to life’. Yep, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you recognize a pull in yourself towards the less mainstream, then this would be the book for you.
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I was so excited about this book because the cover drew me in but ultimately, I was disappointed by it.

I didn't find myself engrossed in the story and it kind of dragged for me. 

Unfortunately I would not recommend this book.
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Going in to this novel, I was super excited because its an alternative retelling of the adventures of Aleister Crowley aka The Devil. The cover had sucked me in with it gorgeous script and beautiful border. It was however not exactly not what i thought it would be.

So this wasnt inherently bad, nor was it fantastically good, it just kind of sits in that middle ground of average existence. In the first chapters, Crowley is well, an intolerable jerk for wont of a better phrase. He's just not good people. I understand he is the embodiment of Lucifer but at least he could have had a personality above 'holier than thou to everyone he meets'

Once I got past Part One, he seemed to be a better person and I quite enjoyed parts of his tale. I appreciate how much research had to have gone into the composition of this novel because as far as i can tell, a vast majority of his tales are rather historically accurate.

My main peeve with the entire thing was the apparent lack of an ability to write in sensible length paragraphs. Some were extremely while the majority were longwinded and unnecessary.

The narrative, as i have previously said, was mainly based in fact and a enjoyed it for the most part. It just felt like there was something a little bit off in my opinion. 

Definitely worth a read for those who love alternate retellings and have an interest in the occult
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I really enjoyed this alternate history book, the premise was semi believable and the story and characters were engaging and held my interest until the end. can't wait to read more.
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“My name is Aleister Crowley, The Great Beast. 666. And I am here to tell you the truth.”

My thanks to Unbound for an eARC via NetGalley of  Ian Thornton’s fictional autobiography, ‘The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley’, in exchange for an honest review. 

I have been familiar with the works of Aleister Crowley for many years and therefore didn’t need any convincing that he wasn’t the Satanic cultist of the tabloid press. It was quite interesting to see how Thornton blended fact, fiction, and fantasy.

This novel has Crowley faking his death in 1947 and entering the mythical realm of Shangri-La; where he has resided, apart from the occasional foray back into the world, for seven decades. 

As narrator the Old Crow takes the reader through various events in his life embellished with the early revelation that much of the reports of his wickedness were part of his cover: “You see, the truth is that I was the greatest spy of the twentieth century. The lies were all necessary, as they had been for that other great Englishman, The Scarlet Pimpernel.” Indeed, he often refers to himself as a Pimpernel.

Thornton has focused on the idea that Crowley was a spy. It’s been a popular idea with some of his biographers. He also introduces a number of fictional mentors, lovers and children while jettisoning others. 

Given my background it proved not an easy book for me to review. I was especially perplexed by the aforesaid protectors/mentors assigned to Crowley when a boy - Dr Dandylyon and Prudence Venus Coshe. They came from a strange lineage dating back to the time of Boadicea’s rebellion and a powerful spell cast that “would last thousands of years. ...... there would always be a Dandylyon and a Prudence, in unison, close to power in England.” 

It turned out that the narrative was dominated by politics and espionage as well as Crowley’s relationships, real and fictional. Certainly plenty of sex, drugs, and erotic poetry but very little Magick. His relationships to the gods, who were so central to his magical practices, were hardly mentioned. His seminal work ‘Magick in Theory and Practice’? Nowhere.

Therefore, it proved quite an uneven read for me. I applaud the intention to dispel the label of ‘wickedest man in the world’ and amused to think of Crowley lurking behind the scenes of various events, especially during the 60s. Yet I stumbled over some parts.

I would also have expected some end notes from the author about his inspiration to write this, some sources and perhaps indicating to readers not familiar with Crowley’s life about his areas of creative license.

Edit: Thinking about it overnight and knowing Crowley as I do, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t been lurking on the astral whispering encouragement into Thornton’s ear. He would have loved the Pimpernel aspect as well as Shangri-la, which isn’t a bad metaphor for the Inner Planes. Still feel that it lacks magic but I think Crowley would appreciate it and perhaps it will encourage new readers to explore his life and work.

3.5 rounded up to 4.
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I really wanted to love this. As an historical figure, Aleister is probably a distant relative so naturally I was intrigued by the premise of this book. However, I had difficulty with the layout of the story, and the history versus the fiction seemed chaotic. Not your typical historical fiction. 
Overall, there were sections of the book that were interesting but I could not finish it.
#TheDaethsAndAfterlifeOfAleisterCrowley #NetGalley #Unbound
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Having had more than passing interest in the occult this was a no-brainer for me given Crowley is one of the most notorious men in history, but was he quite as evil as people thought him to be? The Deaths & Afterlife of Aleister Crowley assumes his supposed death in 1947 never took place and he ending up living out his days in relative obscurity. Set in the present day, Crowley is 130 years old and considering opening up about the media's portrayal of him in order to try and set the record straight. His use of shocking tactics so that those aware of him focus on those attributes whilst he is left to get on with his real mission was nothing short of a fantastic disinformation campaign much like what we see nowadays, so although fictional the story holds some important messages within its pages as well as being very entertaining.

Whether certain concepts and sentiments are true here or not there is no way of knowing where the true man begins or ends, but it makes you think, and I appreciated that. I wouldn't be surprised at those around at the time demonising him as he rallied against his Christian upbringing and that is all people really knew in the UK (and wider Europe) at the time. It reminds me of when Marilyn Manson (not a band I listen to) was blamed for some of the school shootings in the US press; it certainly isn't new for some people to label as satanic those they don't understand. Branded the "wickedest man in the world", Crowley inspired the likes of Led Zeppelin and his image is one of many on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.

One thing is for sure - Crowley remains to this day a collage of intrigue, and this book is nothing short of excitement-filled, compulsive reading. Many thanks to Unbound for an ARC.
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I requested this book thinking it would be a comedy perhaps along the lines of Tom Holt's "Paint Your Dragon", with the whole premise of "setting the record straight". Unfortunately, I had misunderstood the nature of the book. Instead it appears to be a fictionalised autobiography of the life of Crowley, told straight, and without much in the way of embellishments or humour. It was clearly well written, but my own errors led me to request a book that really wasn't for me at all - which is why I am giving it 3 stars. 

I was unable to complete the book after mentions of his childhood nurse giving him "comfort fellatio" as a child when he was sick - I found that extremely uncomfortable and felt that it evidently wasn't the sort of narrative I would enjoy reading. 

For people who are interested in Crowley and his life, this may be for you, as it seems robustly researched and well written; it wasn't what I was looking for, unfortunately.
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This was definitely a peculiar read. 

The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley revolves around a parallel universe where said occultist never actually died, but staged his own death and moved away from home. Now over 100 years old, he looks back on his life, setting the record straight for the readers.

The book had a very bumpy flow, using sentence structure that was hard to follow. It felt like the character wasn't actually narrating, but instead gave out a prepared, 'robotized' speech. The whole thing was very disheartening, made me disinterested, and made the story very hard to follow. The plot was also lacking in emotion and action.
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I ended up DNF-ing this at 40%. It was not what I was expecting it to be and not in an enjoyable way. What I did read felt like a slog to get through. And maybe it's just me. But I really didn't like it. I was expecting something set in modern-day, some epic tale using magic to fight the "Big Bad" with occasional flashbacks hitting the historical highlights. Instead, this was a fictional autobiography and I just couldn't convince myself it was worth seeing to the end.
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This was not what I was expecting and not in a good way. The story was interesting at times but confusing. This was not the book for me, however I believe fans of Aleister Crowley will enjoy it.
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This book has come out at the right time with how well good omens did, so people are going to flock to this book thinking it's something to do with that. 

But alas it's all about the real Aleister Crowley. 

Good book enjoyed reading every moment of it and found it a well thought out and beautiful written book. 

This book has sparked my interest in Crowley so will be looking in to him further but all in all a good book and one I may pick up again in the future
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DNF @ 6%

So, I read an excerpt of this before I picked it up, and I thought I was going to love it. Aleister Crowley in Shangri La planning one final venture back into the world on a sort of planet-saving mission. Cool. I'm all for antiheroes. Definitely gave me some Kingsman sort of vibes, potentially, with the whole operating in secret to save everybody and you're welcome.

What it actually ended up being was more of a fictional autobiography by Aleister Crowley. I try, I really do, to get to at least 15 - 20% of a book before I DNF it, to give it a fair shake, but I just couldn't make it with this. The narration was dry and straightforward much character or personality. The part I read is a pretty straightforward retelling of his childhood, with a pretty heavy emphasis on Christianity, including many, many quotes from Bible verses. That's really just not my thing, personally.
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