C.S. Lewis didn’t just write a good book when he wrote The Screwtape Letters.
He uncovered a highly entertaining and clever way to satirize heavy topics like Hell, Heaven, and even human topics like education or philosophical trends.
The format is so popular that dozens of writers have written Screwtape-style stories.
Walter Hooper, who worked as Lewis’ secretary, even said that Lewis really created a new subgenre, “diabolical correspondence.”
Here’s my pick of the top 3 diabolical correspondence books that have come out since Lewis’ death.
1. The Last on Christian On Earth by Os Guinness
Originally published as The Gravedigger File, Guinness uses the diabolical correspondence format to talk about his “Gravedigger Thesis”:
– Christianity helped create the modern world (i.e. western civilization).
– The modern world and its philosophical ideas have ultimately undermined Christianity.
– Therefore, the Western Church has become its own gravedigger.
Like Guinness’ other books, The Last Christian on Earth is filled with academic notes and concepts, which make it a dense read.
However, the insights are great, and the book combines narrative and academic discussion in a distinct way.
Guinness also creates a plausible story about how he “acquired” the demonic files, which sets him apart from many writers.
Other writers have usually said, “like C.S. Lewis, I must not divulge how I discovered this documents” or given highly contrived explanations (such as receiving Satanic emails by accident,).
Guinness creates an Oxford professor he supposedly met in England and describes how the professor gave him the messages before disappearing.
2. Lord Foulgrin’s Letters by Randy Alcorn
Alcorn splits his book between two stories.
The first story, written in the form of letters, follow Lord Foulgrin, a demon corresponding with his understudy, Squaltaint, about how to corrupt Squaltain’s objective, a businessman named Jordon Fletcher.
The second story, written as a narrative, follows Fletcher and the choices he makes, and how those choices affect his family.
This hybrid approach gives the book a different feel than the Screwtape Letters, making the human characters seem more personable.
We don’t just hear the demons talking about the humans’ actions, we watch the humans do those actions and see their reactions firsthand.
3. As One Devil to Another by Richard Platt
Unlike The Screwtape Letters, this book starts when the tempters (Scardagger, advised by his uncle Slashreap) meet the human they plan to corrupt.
In this case, the human is a young college student who seems to be moving smoothly into secular humanism and pompous academia.
While many people have emulated Lewis’ darkly comic style, Richard Platt probably does it the best.
He captures the gothic atmosphere as demons talking about eating human souls, the arcane names, and the overly posh British tone.
Platt also uses Slashreap to give some great insights about cell phones, social media and other technology or ideas that have come about since Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters.
Many chapters end with an amusing illustration of a demon doing something that relates to ideas being discussed, which gives the book a comic tone.
You can read my Screwtape-style letter here: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/the-memo-from-hell