Joint 4th: Magnificent Malevolence & Operation Screwtape
Two recent works of supernatural fiction draw their inspiration from the works of C.S. Lewis. Darker than his ‘Narnia Chronicles’ but with the spiritual insight of his non-fiction, Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters detail the evil actions of senior tempter, Screwtape, and his student demon, Wormwood, the weaknesses of mortals and the strength to resist available through Christ.
Magnificent Malevolence introduces a new name to the cast of demons: Crumblewit, and shows how Screwtape’s principles of temptation achieved everything he could have hoped for in the years from 1948 to the present.
Wilson’s undercover devil uses and misuses techniques that John le Carré’s George Smiley would recognise; causing everything from the Middle East conflict to the current world financial crisis and the self-destructive obsessions of the Church.
Where Derek Wilson is primarily an historian, Andrew Farley - author of The Naked Gospel, is more of a creative communicator and preacher. His book takes the form of a manual in the art of spiritual combat. It has more of the ring of C S Lewis' original about it, and less of the retrospective, demonic rise-and-fall narrative of Wilson’s book.
Operation Screwtape is more of a prophetic warning against the strategies of temptation in this age; an age where belief in the supernatural has been largely expunged from most people’s reality, and relegated to the fantasy of spiritual fiction. As Farley has Screwtape write: “...The only thing more advantageous to us [the tempters] than the patients [the humans] not knowing our methods, is for them to believe that they actually do our methods.”
Farley’s book is definitely is less of a novel than Wilson’s approach; though both books count as works of fiction, both work by exposing what temptation has done in the past, how it works in the present and what might happen in the future – if we are not constantly on our guard.
3rd Place: The Reason by William Sirls
“I have never, I repeat, NEVER cried when reading a book. Until I read The Reason” – Alex, Goodreads.com comment.
Unlike Alex, when I read The Reason I didn’t cry. I did, however, have a renewed sense of the supernatural and the significance of my faith. The enchanting story charts the mysterious supernatural events that occur in a small town in Michigan; beginning with a cross seared by lightening and its miraculous repair by a stranger called Kenneth.
Through an unlikely cast of characters, the first time author reveals the nature of God through the mysterious carpenter and describes each character's unique journey to faith through their personal spiritual road block: addiction, illness, abuse or doubt. We interviewed William Sirls in December 2012 when he told us about how his experience of prison inspired his narrative and compelled him to write a book that would ‘break the ice’:
“I want Christians to read the book, enjoy the book and be comfortable passing it on to someone in the secular audience: ‘Read this story and tell me who the carpenter is.’ Hopefully that will break some of the ice that will lead to more serious conversations.” – William Sirls, from an Eden Interview.
2nd Place: Illusion by Frank Peretti
Magic... Illusionists... Love… Playing God… Time travel… These are the headlines which make up the mega-themes of the book, wrapped up in spine-tingling metaphor by a master craftsman of the supernatural.
“Frank Peretti has a way of using fiction to draw our attention to the very real spiritual world around us. His stories are modern day classics.” – Michael W. Smith.
Described as This Present Darkness, intertwined with a love story, Illusion is a tangled plot that slowly unravels in mysterious, mystical ways (as the intriguing title implies). The richly detailed characters - Mandy especially, with her supernatural talents and alluring inner monologue - draw you into the excitement and tension.
In all honesty, Illusion is a love story – but don’t be put off. It’s not in any way soppy; you'll find astrophysics, magic, government conspiracies and multidimensional travel all nestled within the pages. Instead, it conveys the power of marital love that is stronger than time, space and everything in between.
1st Place: Angelguard by Ian Acheson
This book grabbed me from page one and wouldn’t let go. It kept me up past midnight, and then left me with fantastical dreams. Although it reads like a first novel, its fast-paced dialogue and intense action make this book unputdownable.
“Fans of Frank Peretti will love Angelguard. Ian Acheson does a masterful job of weaving the seen with the unseen.” – Mike Dellosso, author of ‘Scream’.
Angelguard refers to the angelic figures that guard those who pray. The story pulls back the curtains that separate the physical and the spiritual to imagine a realm inhabited with White Knights (the angels) wielding swords of brilliant light, and murderous dark assassins (the demons) battling for the power to influence humankind.
First time author, Ian Acheson, has obviously been reading Frank Peretti; it’s very action heavy. That said, the dialogue was sleek, smooth and often witty, and the plot never dragged its heels. Perhaps the book's greatest achievement is how Ian portrays the prayers of the faithful as tipping the balance; feeding the White Knights with supernatural strength – extremely powerful stuff!
June 9th, 2013 - Posted & Written by James Warwood