Click here to read reviewer Barbara Sharpe's take on Lord John and the Hand of Devils.
Lord John and the Hand of Devils is made up of three separate novellas, each with its own brief word from the author. They all feature, as the name implies, the complex Lord John Grey. The foreword at the beginning of the book is a view into the writings, past and present, of the incomparable Diana Gabaldon. In it, she shares her plans and motivations for writing. This fascinating history of how Lord John came into being alone would make the book worth reading; the stories themselves are a bonus. Her little personal asides will definitely make long-time fans grin with delight.
In “Lord John and the Hellfire Club,” the ghost of red-haired James Fraser haunts Lord John from page one. From there, however, events carry him somewhat away from that ever-present spirit. This story illustrates the honor that truly embodies his own soul. It is a story that plumbs the depths of human greed, violence, and the twisted ceremonial tendencies that are somehow supposed to justify them.
“Lord John and the Succubus” is a novella written for a fantasy compilation, and it is Gabaldon’s first attempt at pure fantasy. Wild tales of a succubus and a witch attempt to turn the reader’s attention from the underlying intrigues. Lord John’s innate Englishness carries him through - but not without a few scares and sweaty palms.
In a twisted, tangling yarn of a murder mystery in which the intrepid Lord John finds himself embroiled as an unwilling investigator, “Lord John and the Haunted Soldier” shows us yet more complexity. This one is an excellent view of his character. We see much more of him as a person and depths of the multiple facets of his personality and flaws. He truly is an amazing creation, and this story is perhaps the greatest of all of the Lord John stories she has written. As such, it is a fitting ending to this collection.
While many prefer novels to shorter stories, fans of Gabaldon’s work - and this character especially - will enjoy any little tidbit while waiting for the next installment of the award-winning Outlander series. For readers who have yet to be acquainted with her writing, this is the ideal book to pick up. Lord John and the Hand of Devils lives up to what we’ve come to expect of Diana Gabaldon, in terms of characters who breathe and stories that rival our realities.