Genre: Spiritual Warfare, Supernatural
Publisher: Darkwater (an imprint of Splashdown Books)
My Thoughts: I'd been wanting to read this book for a long time, so I was very excited when I finally got a chance to make that happen. The unique premise of a new Christian (who's also goth) discovering that she has the gift of prophecy intrigued me. Actually reading the book kept me on the edge of my seat from cover to cover.
Winter is a new Believer whose faith is helping her put her life back together after a childhood that was more than a little rough. It's slow going, but she's making progress bit by bit.
Her progress gets a pretty major shaking-up, though, when she begins having premonitions, seeing things that haven't happened or knowing things she has no logical way of knowing. When her friend Kaci talks to her about spiritual gifts to Believers, Winter begins to suspect that hers is the gift of prophecy.
And when hideous, violent crimes and an anti-religious power grab rock the campus of the university, Winter's gift might be the only way to save the lives of her friends and bring the college back to its Christian foundation.
This book had me hooked from the first page. The author, Keven Newsome, is absolutely an artist with the written word. He has the ability to present an image or setting in complete, vivid detail in the reader's mind with just a single turn of phrase or a word or two (literally) of description. His ability at scene-crafting is incredible. There were multiple scenes throughout the book that just amazed me with their vividness and the way they came to life, making me feel like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book. If nothing else, writers, read this book to learn how to create scenes and settings like Keven Newsome does it!
As for the content itself, be forewarned that it is very, very dark throughout the book, which just sort of comes with the territory. Between the spiritual warfare and brutal crime (and by brutal I mean very brutal) that make up the plot, and the frequent flashbacks to Winter's early teenage years, following her path into the Goth sub-culture and her eventual experimentation with witchcraft prior to her conversion, darkness is a necessary element. What I loved about it was the way that Winter's own experience with the dark elements of the book was part of what enabled her to figure out what was going on and fight against it, and in several instances it was what kept her from being shocked and freaked out to the point of not being able to function. I thought that was a skillful use on the author's part of the fact that what we intend for harm, God uses for good.
One element that seriously bothered me about this book was when Winter was first realizing that she had the gift of prophecy, but was doubting her own suitability for the calling. During one of her doubt-filled, questioning prayers, she hears the voice of God saying "I, the Lord, believe in you." Which is totally not a Biblical concept in any way, shape, or form. God makes it abundantly clear over and over in His word that our ability is not ours, but His. He pulls no punches making sure we know that we don't have the ability in ourselves to do what He wants of us, that the ability all comes from Him. So that really got under my skin.
Another thing that puzzled and perplexed me was the lack of parental involvement in the plot. At one point a few of the main characters even show up at parents' house seeking medical help after one of them has been kidnapped and beaten, tell the parents what's going on in full, and ask their advice. The parents offer them advice, prayer, and encouragement to face the situation as God would have them to... and make no attempt whatsoever to get involved. Their children are facing sadistic Satanic maniacs, and they don't make an effort to get involved. Really, now? I understand that, as a writer, if your main character is a child you sometimes have to marginalize the parents to an extent, since a parent's job is to protect the child from the kind of things that usually go on in fictional stories. But this was just a little extreme for my tastes.
There was some lack or realism, too, in how quickly Winter seems to recover from the various injuries she receives over the course of the story. For instance, at one point she gets a few broken ribs; after looking her over a nurse sends her upstairs to take a shower before she wraps the ribs. Having had a little bit of experience with rib injuries, let me tell you that with broken ribs, you're not going to be interested in undertaking anything more ambitious than just breathing - and even that becomes a chore. No way are you going to walk upstairs and take a shower.
But, if I forced myself to ignore the "I, the Lord, believe in you" thing, and overlooked the other few things, like I said I really enjoyed this book. Dark, yes. Brutal at times, yes. I definitely wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 18. But a very unique story with a unique cast of characters, and stellar writing and scene-craft.
Let me know when the movie comes out - I'll have my ticket reserved!