Monday, March 7, 2011

The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell

Dras Weldon lives in a world of horror movies and comic books. Twenty-two and unemployed, he is content to hide in the shadow of adolescence with a faith that he professes but rarely puts into action.

But when a demonic stranger arrives and begins threatening his friends, Dras is drawn into a battle that forces him to choose which side he is on. In a race against the clock, he must not only fight these evil forces but also somehow convince his best friend, Rosalyn, to join him—before she is lost forever.

Engaging and darkly humorous, The Strange Man is the first act of a trilogy that depicts a world where monsters are real and simple men and women must overcome their doubts and fears in order to stand against the unspeakable creatures of the night.

My review:
This book reminds me of Frank Peretti's first couple of books, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. Spiritual warfare, demons, good and bad battling for the souls of men.

There is a fairly new genre' of Christian fiction: horror. The two don't seem to go together, Christian and horror, but Greg Mitchell joins a few authors who are braving this new genre', and so far I like the results.

The Strange Man is a little more creepy than Peretti's books, but in a good way. In this book, the demons actually appear to people and attack and chase them. The story is both suspenseful and humorous. The main character is a twenty-two year old young man who is nothing more than a drunk and an immature guy who still collects comic books and action figures. He becomes the central figure in the battle for his town.

I liked the author's writing style. He wrote very likable and believable characters into his story, and I was caught up quickly in their stories and battles. This was one of those books that once I started, I did not want to put it down.

One thing that really stood out to me in the book was the idea of evil being held back from the town for a hundred years because of the faithful in the town. As the number of the faithful dwindled, the evil ceased to be held back. I can't help but wonder how much of that is going on in real life today. Scary idea.

The only issue I had with the book was with theology. The main character, Dras, became a Christian at the age of nine. As an adult, he is a drunk, a lazy bum, and and more, yet is supposedly a Christian because of a conversion at the age of nine. This belief gives the idea that once you become a Christian, you can live however you want, do whatever you want, live like the devil, and go to Heaven in the end - a dangerous theology. And I am not saying the author came up with the idea, or is trying to say that, but the status of Dras falls under Calvinism, which I do not ascribe to for several reasons. Other than that, I did thoroughly enjoy the book and recommend it, especially for those who enjoy Peretti's books.

Thought I should update this after the author read my review. He was extremely gracious about my criticism, so I am pasting below what he said:

Hey, thanks for the review. And no problem at all. It's funny, Dras' salvation experience at age nine is totally "up for grabs". It wasn't my intention to say he WAS saved--just that he always believed he was. Whether he was all this time and just "back slidden" or just deceived until the moment he comes to God in this book is intentionally left open to reader interpretation.

For the record, I'm not a Calvinist or suggesting that a Christian can act however they like after they "get saved" :p

Good review. Thanks very much :)

About the author:
Greg Mitchell is a screenwriter and novelist. Two of his horror short stories have appeared in two editions of Coach’s Midnight Diner. He has also contributed to the Star Wars franchise with a short fiction piece published on the Official Star Wars site, and wrote online tie-in material in conjunction with Devil’s Due Publishing for their line of Halloween comics based on the original film by John Carpenter. He is currently working with Cloud Ten Pictures and writing the fifth installment in their popular Apocalypse film franchise. The Strange Man is his first novel, and the first part of The Coming Evil Trilogy. He lives in Northeast Arkansas with his wife and their two daughters."

Read the first chapter here.

The blog for the series is here.
The Strange Man is available from Realms Publishing, an imprint of Charisma Media.

Thanks to Anna from Charisma for the review copy.


The Gill-Man said...

I have to disagree that Calvanist theology is being promoted here...quite the opposite. The fact that Dras has backslid is what prevents him from being able to effectively stop The Strange Man's agenda. Dras claims to be a Christian, but his lifestyle and attitude show just how far he has fallen. He has no spiritual authority to do ANYTHING to battle his new nemesis, and even after he realizes his folly...all he can hope to do is convince her.

Dras HIMSELF might be viewed as a Calvanist, in fact I'd say his outlook on life is pretty similar to such a theology, but I'd argue that Mitchell's book is pretty much condeming such an ideal. His brother repeatedly attempts to warn him that it just doesn't work the way Dras thinks it does, and that faith without works is dead. In the end, the whole pickle Dras finds himself in is a direct result of his taking such an approach.

I wholeheartedly agree that the "once a Christian, always a Christian" theology is dangerous. In fact, I've seen firsthand how following this belief pattern leads to destruction. I have people in my life who believe this way, and teach their children as such, and then wonder why those children then lead such sinful lives when they get older.

Anyhoo, great review! I hope you don't mind a total stranger coming on here and debating a point with you. I actually agree with the vast majority of your thoughts on the matter, and wouldn't have bothered to post here if I didn't feel your review wasn't otherwise worthwhile.

Sarah said...

When will the sequel to The Strange Man be released? Any ideas??