The Diary of an Immortal by David J. Castello is a book I found through OnLineBookClub. It is a Book of the Month for February 2017 on their site and members are encouraged to submit thoughts for discussion as they receive point rewards for submission of posts. To enter, I had to read the sample. From that point on, I was hooked by the story; I couldn’t put it down. This will not be true for all readers. There is history, historical fiction, mysticism, hints of the supernatural, and explorations of the tenets of Buddhism. For me, the book was a fit. I would have given it 5 stars if not for the ending. The novel was great down to the last few pages and then the author presented an ending which I found totally unacceptable. That was quite a feat considering all the various genre we had passed through so well.
This is a 350-page book available on Amazon for USD 2.51. I am one of those who takes advantage of KU whenever possible. This novel was not available from KU but the sample was so good I purchased the full version. It would be easy to get the wrong impression of what the book is about from the sample. Steven is a medic in WWII and is a part of the US forces that liberated Dachau. His description of what was seen inside the camps, the actions of Kripos, the desperation of the liberated to adjust their stomachs to accept food, the actions of US forces toward German troops who surrendered and his feelings observing all these events may be eye-opening to a generation far removed from those events. As a person born in Germany during those years, I accepted what the author wrote as factual and normal. Except for the immortality pills, and that is where the book takes off to establish its own niche.
I am confident the author managed to shock readers with some of the scenes of children fanatically accepting death in the final days of attempting to save the homeland. One very important subject was barely touched on; the universal guilt of the German population. Vestiges of that remain today and later generations are resentful of it. Perhaps the author was wise to tread lightly on this one or we would have never got on with the rest of the book. What is widely accepted from a base that mixes anecdotal evidence with objective, documented evidence, is that during the final days of the Reich there was a flailing about of all kinds of attempts at saving the Reich. There were hints at experiments with jets, nuclear power, and getting aid from the occult. Enter Steven as he finds a box with not only immortality pills; they also come with instructions.
Because Steven was a medic, he wanted to find medical evidence for how this combination of chemicals came about. Luckily he ran into Erika Orsic, a beautiful, stunning (who will write about the ugly people) German who knew a person who knew a person who had been involved with medical experiments at Dachau, where Steven had found the pills. And that final person in the food chain was known to Erika; he owned a coffee shop nearby. Erika offered to take Steven to the coffee shop and Steven accepted. He trusted her because in an earlier happenstance meeting she had described to Steven a shortcut they could take into the village when they were invading it. The shortcut bridge had been mined and blew up when the allied forces tried to use it; Erica had neglected to mention the mines but she explained she hadn’t known that. Steven believed her; she was beautiful and stunning. At a meeting in a coffee shop, Steven learns enough that he decides to take the pills, one per day and, due to the available supply, he not only will live forever but his body would do all kinds of neat things like regenerate lost parts and heal wounds. As the meeting at the coffee shop concludes, Steven goes off with Erika to spend the night in what will become the best night of his life and he will think of her forever. Literally, because he is immortal and she is beautiful and stunning.
Immediately after WWII, at the time of Steven and Erika’s meeting, there were laws about fraternization between allied troops and Germans. Steven could have gone to jail but he didn’t. Instead, he was shipped home, the war was over, and Steven accepted the idea he would never meet Erika again. But a guy could dream and Steven did. Steven went home a changed person. His family was not a stranger to him but things had changed. His father was dying and Steven saw an opportunity. He would share the pills with his father. His father refused, choosing instead to commit suicide. There was nothing for Steven to remain home for and he embarked on a series of travels and experiments with music in an effort to build a postwar meaningful life. It would be a long one as he continued to take the pills. And the pills affected his music. Steven would go into a trance and produce music no one had ever heard before. It was a mix of contemporary music with hints of Chinese overtones. While playing innovative music two people showed up at a performance who wanted to talk to him about his music. Albert had been a missionary in China but was presently defrocked due to an “incident.” Albert was accompanied by his niece Jennifer who acted as a caretaker for Albert. She was stunning and beautiful.
In conversations with Albert and Jennifer Steven describes some of the visions he has in a trance while playing his music. He sees two prominent monks, Chow Li and Chang Sou, and is able to describe them in such detail that Albert and Jennifer recognize them. Albert associates them with the incidents that caused him his problems with and expulsion from the church. Albert knows that both monks are in a deadly fight with each other. Chow Li is a force for good, Chang Sou is a force for evil, and both of them are immortal. The visions Steven sees when playing music are something called the Akashic Record which is tenuously linked to a portal to a different world. The world can be connected to telepathically, the immortality pills provide a method to see the records. Clearly, a road trip is necessary for Steven, Albert, and Jennifer to find the monks Steven has seen in trances and Albert has met in person. The idea of immortality will be explored. The conflict between Chow Li and Chang Sou will be resolved. The immortality pills with the associated powers that brought Hitler to power will never again be used for evil.
One of the people who could have explained a lot about the immortality pills was Maria Orsic. She had helped Hitler come to power by using her telepathic powers to communicate with her home at Aldebaran, about sixty-five light years away from earth. That had resulted in the immortality pills. She, other than being stunning, beautiful, and the sister of Erika, had gone home to Aldebaran. There was nothing left for our heroes Steven, Albert, and Jennifer to do but go to Tibet and visit the monks of Steven’s trance. In Tibet, the leader will learn some of the tenets of Buddhism and Taoism. The reader will learn of conflicts between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese. And the reader will witness life and death struggles between Chow Li and Chang Sou, a struggle our three heroes must participate in. Steven is necessary to the struggle because Steven can kill. Chow Li can’t kill due to religious beliefs. And some people need killing.
The struggle will continue to an end I really didn’t like. But the rest of the book was fantastic and I wouldn’t give up the pleasure of reading the book even if I had known the ending before I started reading. Other readers may approve of the ending. That is why there is a discussion in the forums of the site that introduced me to the book.
This is a safe book for those offended by rough language. There is no gratuitous sex and little of any other kind. Readers who can suspend beliefs and accept a bit of the occult will like this. It is also good historical fiction as it encompasses the struggles of Mao, the Dalai Lama, Chiang Kai Shek, and the final days of the Germans in WWII.
This is a worthwhile and entertaining book I highly recommend. Despite the ending.