Field of Blood

272451572

Author: Eric Wilson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 2008 )
ISBN-10: 1595544585
ISBN-13: 978-1595544582
My
Rating: ♦ ♦

In FIELD OF BLOOD, an excavation crew accidentally gouges a hole in the Akeldama–the Potter’s Field, the Field of Blood Judas Iscariot purchased and committed suicide on after betraying Jesus.

From the disturbed burial ground, a resurrected, two-family, cluster of Collectors emerges–eighteen beings in all, with one unaccounted for from the nineteen empty coffins. These bloodsucking creatures that thrive on human blood and souls are somewhat disoriented with the changes that have transpired in society during the 2000+ years they’ve been Separated. After feasting, they are drawn from Israel to Romania in a quest to find an immortal girl, Gina, marked with a Tav on her forehead, because she could potentially give birth to one of the Nistarim. The thirty-six original Nistarim, those marked to escape judgment during the day of Elijah and resurrected when Jesus died on the cross, work to defend the earth and kill Collectors when they get the chance. In the event one of the Nistarim perishes for good, others are born to take its place. [I’m still not sure how this works.] If Collectors can kill one of the Nistarim, they believe they will usher in their own paradise on earth. This power struggle between supernatural teams goes on with humanity unaware.

Collectors can temporarily leave their human shell and travel in other living hosts but cannot control will beyond prodding. Inhabiting this way is a risk, as it leaves them limited and vulnerable and they must find their way back to their main body, but sometimes it’s one worth taking if the situation calls. This ability as well as one to siphon memories from blood helps them in tracking Gina. They also develop a new way to feed on humans without killing, to continually tap the same sources with a thorny vine, taking advantage of human temptations, negative emotions and weaknesses. This symbolically represents how sin can take root in our lives and suck us dry, and the only way to kill it is by drinking the Blood of the Nazarene.

FIELD OF BLOOD is divided into four parts. Each part begins with a journal entry from an unknown person/being, who has received a map with four drops of blood. As he curiously sticks his tongue to the first drop, the memories of others begin to string together in his mind, which compels him to write the story we’re reading. We still don’t know who this is by the end of the book since it is a trilogy, but I have a theory. 😉

The novel is well-written, weaving humor, history, Truth, family drama, vampiric lore, chess and suspense, and the characters are all interesting and complex. The language is sophisticated, descriptions vivid, and the reservoir of research from which Wilson draws inspiration runs deep. Some of the villains are actually kinda likable and there are laughable moments in their traversing, and Gina, having spent a lifetime of literally being cut by her mother for her sins, is a little bristly in the middle, which is fine for me, as it makes them all the more intriguing and gives Gina has room to grow. I hate when POV characters run on one note, but Wilson’s creations ebb and flow, pique curiosity, and refuse to be cardboard. You may, but I did not find the multiple POVs or the timeline and locale jumps too jarring, but I did have to slow down to read because of this.

There’s a lot of simmering and slow unfolding in the book, especially in the beginning, so if you want a fast-paced nail biter, this isn’t it. But the story was no less interesting for me and I see the pace as being parallel to how sin imprisons a person, not necessarily seizing a person at once, but slowly hunting, tempting, invading then embedding and stealing your soul. I am still very confused as to what the Collectors are, and this niggling question still carries. Wilson doesn’t seem to choose between vampire, zombie, fallen angel, or a being that is entirely new and different, perfectly fine if that’s the case, but the fact that they are referred to as any/all of them doesn’t give me clarity. Satan is considered the Master Collector, so perhaps they’re demonic vampires. It could be that the characters are unreliable because they don’t know, but I felt the author chose not to pigeonhole, leaving it up to readers to draw their own conclusions. These particular Collectors were active during the time of Jesus, and Wilson threads ties to that time period, like by having them as the legion that were cast into swine. Cool angle!

And I didn’t totally care for the ending. The climax was excellent, since Wilson didn’t hold back any punches or shrink from grit, but the very end, although designed to be hooky, didn’t give completion to the story’s arc. I know this is a trilogy but I still like more definition as a reader. It’s a very Lord of the Rings moment.

That said, I highly recommend the book. It was imaginative in successfully blending Christian truth and history with bloodsucking, undead creatures. I especially enjoyed the humor and the symbolism with chess, especially with Regina being the Queen [that’s what her name means] and she’s fascinated with the Immortal game. Ironic right? Intentional irony, true, but I love when author’s weave in deeper nuances and symbolism for readers to find.

Good read for me!

[Wow. That was hard to write because of the story’s complexity. Good thing Wilson is established; writing an agent-tickling synopsis for that would be a nightmare. 🙂 ]

The Lovely Bones

Author: Alice Sebold
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (September 1, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0316166685
ISBN-13: 978-0316166683
My Rating:
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*A bit spoilery…I did like that Alice Sebold used an Observing First Person point of view, since I don’t come across it very often and the language and descriptions were excellent. The opening of The Lovely Bones was gripping, perhaps too gripping, with the detail of the rape and murder of a child, but the rest of the book failed to deliver its promise.

We’re all observers of the world that’s been ripped away from fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon, as it picks up ten years after her death. We’re told about her heaven, don’t experience it. We’re given peepholes and voyeur passes to witness the unraveled mess her family has become. We see the killer, still uncaught. Her mother having an affair with the lead detective. Her sister finding love and having sex, living the life that was stolen from her. Her old friends, first kiss. Her father still grieving and trying to ensnare the man he knows killed his daughter.

Susie’s lighthearted tone creates vastness and keeps readers from experiencing much beyond the first couple chapters. Because of this distance, readers are left with a cruddy middle, an irritating ending and an emptiness for things left unresolved. We’re never allowed to connect with any of the characters because Susie doesn’t.

For most of this book, Susie gets us to hope that someone would find proof of her murder or her bones. Yet when Susie gets the chance to go back to earth briefly, instead of giving anyone a head’s up, she possesses the body of a childhood lesbian friend, basically raping her by seducing the only boy Susie kissed in life without her friend’s consent or knowledge. One rape is portrayed as horrible, and the other was sold as the feel-good climax, no pun intended, but it was icky, wrong and strange for so many reasons. And what about the aftermath now of poor Ruth, whom she inhabited and used? No one seems to care about her. Seeing true vindication and closure for Susie’s murder is the main reason why I continued reading through 2/3rd’s-worth of pretty sludge.

I wanted to like this book, but I didn’t find much originality here. The characters are archetypal. We never really get a good grasp on them or Susie. There’s no more depth beyond what’s already on the back of the book. The sparsity and observing device is akin to Our Town, the creepy possessed sex scene is right out of Ghost, but more gross and disturbing since it’s a fourteen-year-old with a man, and this kind of trap-door ending was used in The Bad Seed. The author adeptly cast a whimsical haze over gritty material, which is to be lauded, but it should have delved deeper, so we could weep for the life that was stolen, the family shattered, the mystery unsolved. As is, I feel cheated.


18 Seconds

Author: George D. Shuman
Publisher: Pocket Star (March 27, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0743277171
ISBN-13: 978-0743277174
My
Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

I enjoyed 18 SECONDS immensely. I liked the way Shuman took a plot element that has been done before and relayed it in a fresh way. I dislike how this book is portrayed as a psychic thriller, psychological thriller, yes, but to call it a psychic thriller degrades it, because it’s not really, which is a better angle in my opinion. A blind character in the novel possesses the ability to “see” the last 18 seconds of the person’s life, when she makes physical contact. This character is not psychic. She does not communicate with the dead person. She is just able to make an energy-to-energy connection with the short term memory of a corpse. For eighteen seconds, she experiences what the person thought and lived through in the last moments of life. I felt the author did a great job at making that element believable in the story’s context.

I also enjoyed the character details, punchy verbs and grittiness. I didn’t find anything that dragged momentum.

The only aspect I didn’t like was that the two main female characters didn’t meet until near the end. I think it would have been great to see them interacting earlier somehow.

The climax of 18 SECONDS was especially gripping. Excellently written fight scenes and final confrontations. I liked that the author didn’t hold back any punches and allowed the female characters to experience pain and turmoil.

Fun read for me.

Forsaken

Author: James David Jordan
Publisher: B&H Fiction (October 1, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0805447490
ISBN-13:
978-0805447491
My
Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

When Simon Mason, a widowed, world-famous televangelist gets death threats from Muslim extremists, he hires former Secret Services agent, Taylor Swift, who runs her own security business, for protection. Simon’s twenty-year-old daughter is soon kidnapped and he’s forced to choose between honoring his faith or saving his daughter.

Told in first person through the eyes of Taylor, we get this tale of pressure, danger, finding love in unexpected places and counting the cost of being a Christian.

Although some parts of this suspense novel were gripping, the abundance of foreshadowing killed some of the tension for me, but that’s a personal feeling. Some readers are hooked by it and like it, but I’ve always had a disdain for it because I don’t like to be told what’s going to happen before it does. A little bit is fine, but every other chapter or so is too much for my liking. I almost wanted to skip the last few paragraphs of each chapter so I’d avoid those thrill robbers. The last third of the book alludes to how things will end, so when it unfolded exactly the way I assumed it would, the potential, heart-wrenching ride for me was somewhat constrained. I liked that the author saved one shocker for the end and how the final threads wrapped up.

That said, I did get misty in a few spots, and I felt James David Jordan did an excellent job of delving into Taylor’s inner demons and agony over being single and alone. This work is also a strong testament of true faith and courage. Any Christian would be blessed and encouraged by its message of redemption and sacrifice.