Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 Christy Awards Nominees Announced

On April 16, nominees were announced for this year's Christy Awards. The awards, designed to "nurture and encourage creativity and quality... bring new awareness to the breadth and depth of fiction choices available... [and] provide opportunity to recognize novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status," are in their 13th year.

Nominees in the Suspense category are:
Over the Edge, by Brandilyn Collins (B&H Publishing)
Pattern of Wounds, by Mark Bertrand (Bethany House)
The Queen, by Stephen James (Revell)

Nominees in the Visionary category include:
The Chair, by Jim Rubart (B&H Publishing)
Forbidden, by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (Center Street)
Veiled Rose, by Anne Elizabeth Stengl (Bethany House)

The Awards ceremony will be held, and winners announced, on July 16, 2012.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Enemies of the Cross Review

Enemies of the Cross, Greg Mitchel's sequel to The Strange Man picks up where the first novel left off. Whereas Dras Weldon, Mitchel's version of the prodical son, was the featured protagonist the first time around, the second novel focuses on Jeff Weldon, Dras's brother. Dras himself is absent entirely from the story's action, the much of what happens is the result of his being framed for multiple murders by the Strange Man. Though he initially reacted similar to the older brother of Christ's parable, Jeff is now repentant himself and is determined to clear his brother's name. The problem is, virtually none in Greensboro will listen to him, Dras having been dubbed "The Greensboro Ripper," and is now awaiting execution.

More of the sinister secrets of Greensboro and its connection with the Strange Man are revealed this time, some of them quite shocking. And as a result, however, new and intriguing questions are opened. As foreshadowed in the previous book, The Strange Man is still in the pursuit of Roselyn, and with Dras out of the way, things look very grim for her. Most of the book focuses on Jeff and his inner struggles however, as well as his quest to uncover the sinister truths kept by a shadowy organization known only as "the Committee."

This is a very deeply Christian-themed novel for a number of reasons. As in other religious themed horror, prayer and sacred symbolism prove effective in repelling evil creatures and demonic forces. There is one very notable incident in which the quoting of scripture proves very effective to this end. But much more significantly, I think, is the theme of vanquishing what I've come to regard as perhaps Satan's most powerful weapon-namely ANGER. We already know from the previous book that Jeff Weldon has serious anger issues. Anger is what kept him from accepting his brother's repentance. Through his own struggles with anger, Jeff comes to realize that replacing anger with love is the key to his final showdown with the Strange Man. Part of him is naturally prone to beligerance, and for him, this is far from an easy task. There is a scene fairly early in the novel in which a very unpleasant character goads Jeff into punching him, then laughs triumphantly at how poorly Jeff has lived up to his Christian ideals. This same character, by the way, is totally consumed by anger himself, mostly as the result of the death of his son, and the evil he commits during the course of the story is testimony to what may result from unrepentant bitterness.

Another thing notable in this story as that (unlike an unfortunate number of horror books and films) it tends to redeem some of the less likeable characters rather than encourage readers to root for their deaths. For example, one particularly sinful character nearly meets what one might suppose is a deserved comeupance, but ends up repenting and being a major player in last half of the book.

The novel ends with the reader yearning for more answers, and the final scene contains one major-and I mean MAJOR-- cliffhanger. Readers will be kept in suspense until the third volume in The Coming Evil appears.