gorgon-pcFor anyone seeking enjoyable and vetted Christian fiction, please see other reviews by Peter Younghusband:http://christianfictionreviewguru.blogspot.com.au/  Or visit the online bookstore at Radiqx Press http://radiqx.com/vetted-christian-bookstore/ 

The Guru's Review: 

I am so glad I did not have to wait for this novel to be released to read it. The only delay I had was due to otherbooks I was requested to review first. 

Gorgon follows the same formula as the previous two novels but has 6 new characters and a different supernatural entity—a gorgon/succubus—and new demons. 

It is very noticeable from these changes that this novel is more complex, action-packed and suspenseful. Everything has a greater depth than previous. I found myself having to concentrate much more compared to the previous two novels. I am not saying that this is a bad thing either, just a natural effect caused by this complexity. Of course, this also means that the entertainment value is also increased and at a deeper level. Now, that is a good thing!

Poll is very successful at depicting the richness of Alaska and that of Ravens Cove. She depicts the many layers of what makes up a small town tick with its characters and their small-town mentality. This shows their cohesiveness and ability to band together when they need to including taking on other roles. An example of this is Doc Billings being the GP and Medical Examiner. They even have a town gossip but instead of being one who is scorned and hated for the trouble she causes, she has the townsfolk's respect! I find this rather comical!

Poll has used this backdrop to focus on the demise of a previous resident, Mandy Thomas. She left the Cove many years ago for Anchorage and has returned due to her involvement in a murder. She seeks the help of her best friend, Kat, who we know from the previous two instalments.

It is what is involved in this murder that brings the demonic elements back to the Cove. By default, this involves the lives of Kat, Bart, Ken, Grandma Brines, Pastor Paul Lucas, Josiah, Wendy, Doc Billings and others. It also brings new characters into this situation such as Detective Dayton, investigating the murder Mandy is implicated in. Grandma Brines believes he will return to Ravens Cove in the future. I am interested to see if he surfaces in the next instalment, Dullahan, which has just been released. He seems to have had a similar, but shocking, initiation into the supernatural and Ravens Cove as Ken did in the previous two novels. 

The supernatural elements in this instalment are similar but different. Poll introduces the same demonic characters and some new ones. Thus, this demonic plot line becomes much more complex with the introduction of the entity, gorgon, manifested as Lilith. It is well established in both biblical and extra-biblical texts and depicted in fiction, that there is a hierarchy of demons. Poll shows that a gorgon does not fit into this hierarchy, but exists separate to this demonic one. Both hate each other and compete against each other for dominion over the other and the human race. 

I am a little familiar with Lilith. She is described as the first wife of Adam in the abovementioned texts, but not included as Canon in the Bible. She is described well in these texts and has one colorful history. Her inclusion in this story line intrigued me to do a Google search to see what these texts had to say about her. I can see why her story has provided a rich and intriguing plot line in this novel where Poll has exercised some poetic licence. It all adds much suspense and tenseness to this story. The characters seek to find out who this new supernatural entity is and if it is causing such horrific deaths. They also need to discover if it is causing the demonic forces to regroup and attack Ravens Cove again in the demon's attempts to rid themselves of the gorgon. 

The battle strategy between the demons of Iconoclast's forces against those of Gorgon adds a deeper layer of tenseness and depth to the overall battle for the dominion of Ravens Cove. Such betrayal, double crossing and swapping allegiances between these two evil forces test the faith and resolve of Kat, Bart, Grandma Brines, Pastor Paul, Ken and Josiah. 

As I have stated in previous reviews of Poll's novels, she has depicted spiritual warfare biblically. It is integrated throughout the poetic licence of her story lines. She has not allowed this poetic licence to alter this biblical depiction. It is this that makes this series worth reading and not just for its entertainment value. This latter function is not the only role Christian fiction has. One of its many attributes is to educate the reader and Poll allows it to do this by adhering to biblical principles. 

One of the spiritual themes in this novel is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This is not depicted much in Christian fiction (that I have read or not for any specific reason that I can determine). The Bible regards this as the one and only sin unforgivable by God, 

Mark 3:28-30: "Truly I tell you, all sins and blasphemes will be forgiven for the sons of men. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.

These are the following verses that also mention this sin: Matt 12:32Luke 12:10. These say the same thing as the verse mentioned above.

The Amplified Bible defines to these verses being as "whoever intentionally comes short of the reverence due the Holy Spirit".

The website Got Questions refers it as,

"….defiant irreverence. The term can be applied to such sins as cursing God or wilfully degrading things relating to God. Blasphemy is also attributing some evil to God or denying Him some good that we should attribute to Him. This particular case of blasphemy, however, is called “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” in Matthew 12:31."

Poll's depiction of this is in line with the above. Kat witnesses the character involved calling the Holy Spirit obscenities and other horrible things. Like Pastor Paul, I felt the sadness and the stark reality of what this means to the character when he realised this sin had been committed. Admittedly, this character is demon possessed but the end result is the same. 

Taking these verses in context, Jesus was addressing the Pharisees accusing Him of being demon-possessed instead of being Spirit-filled, 

The Pharisees, having witnessed irrefutable proof that Jesus was working miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, claimed instead that the Lord was possessed by a demon (Matthew 12:24). Notice in Mark 3:30 Jesus is very specific about what the Pharisees did to commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: “He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit."

This segment is the most dramatic and saddest in this series so far. It is even sadder when the final outcome for this character is revealed. 

Poll introduces a different aspect of spiritual warfare in each volume. This is another aspect that adds to the appreciation of this series. In Ingress, it was the sin of pride being an obstacle to God's involvement. In Gorgon, it is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This illustrates my point about Christian fiction being educational as well as entertaining.

It seems that Poll has set the stage for more instalments in this series with a new spiritual role appointed to one of the characters. I am looking forward to seeing this take shape in Dullahan. 

I can definitely see why some reviews consider this novel to be the best. I would tend to agree even though I have not read the newest release, Dullahan. That one may prove to be the best. Will have to wait and see!

Another thoroughly enjoyable visit to Raven's Cove. I am at least happy I have one more to read. I pray that there is more to come after Dullahan.

 

Highly Recommended. 5/5 Stars

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Christian Fiction, Creepy Supernatural Fiction, Paranormal Thrillers, Supernatural Thrillers | Leave a comment

For anyone seeking enjoyable and vetted Christian fiction, please see other reviews by Peter Younghusband: http://christianfictionreviewguru.blogspot.com.au/  Or visit the online bookstore at Radiqx Press http://radiqx.com/vetted-christian-bookstore/ 

IngressCovernetgalleyThe Guru's Review: 

Reading this second volume in this An Alaska Iconoclast Mystery series just reinforces that it is a great series with a very talented author. 

It is so good being back in Ravens Cove with all the characters from the previous volume and a few more added in this one. I did not realise how much I had missed them until I started reading this much-awaited story that has sat in my To Be Read list. I feel very much a part of the Ravens Cove community and not just as a reader, but as if I was there with them. Poll has constructed this setting that makes it real for the reader. I definitely want to visit Alaska after reading this series. Add this to my bucket list. Looks like the application of the resources listed in the Acknowledgements has worked in depicting the rich heritage of Alaska. Kudos to this author for being committed to depicting Alaska as it is and thus making this a very memorable read. 

Poll shines in further developing the characters and progressing their relationships from the Ravens Cove volume. It is good to see the fractured relationship between Ken and Kat restored. It is predictable that this would come to the conclusion that I no doubt believe every reader, including myself, wanted and expected to see. Sometimes predictability is necessary and has a nice place in a plotline. It is not just romance between these two characters but a few others as well that add further layers to charactersation. This pleased me immensely. I look forward to these existing romantic relationships and these newly forming ones being developed further in Gorgon, the next volume in this series. There is nothing like romance to soften but strengthen a suspenseful but serious plot. In this novel, it is good versus evil, spiritual warfare over the battle for the souls of mankind, demonic versus the angelic. It is these themes that underscore this novel. 

I love the character of Grandma Bricken. I never knew a Grandmother in my life but Bricken would fit the bill very nicely. She also is very similar to a very close friend in the same age group who has been a spiritual mother to me for the past 30 yrs. Bricken is so much like her it is not funny! It seems that every family or community needs strong spiritual leadership and/or mentors. The main characters are blessed with a trinity of them: Pastor Paul Lucas, Josiah Williams and Grandma Bricken. These three provide Poll with the necessary platform for spiritual truth to be added to the storyline in dealing with Iconoclast and his minions. 

This novel flows seamlessly on from the cliffhanger ending of the previous volume, Ravens Cove. Seeing what happens to Josiah in his confrontation with Iconoclast gives closure to this first volume. It then sets the stage for the next incursion that Iconoclast and his circle of eight demons have with the townsfolk of Ravens Cove. The Prologue gives the history of The Forgotten Place with its demonic heritage and establishes the background for this volume. The stage is set for another action packed, suspenseful and engaging read, complete with the demonic activity and spiritual warfare that was established from the previous volume. 

Any spiritual warfare novel that is based on the Bible and its spiritual warfare principles need to reflect these. Poll has done so again in this novel. She has also taken this to the next level. She has shown what is an obstacle to these principles being effective and how this prevents God from acting. What Poll shows is a common sin that everyone falls victim to and that is pride.and arrogance. This is shown in the Bible as something that God hates and deals with severely. The following links from biblegateway.com show how God deals with this, 

https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=pride&qs_version=HCSB 

https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=arrogance&qs_version=HCSB

When the main characters' attempts at spiritual warfare do not work, Josiah states that they have been praying. He does not understand why God won't stop the demonic onslaught. Upon introspection, he realises the battle for the souls of men is with God, and their sin of arrogance and pride has prevented God from acting. He states,

"I think the evil foe knows his battle for the souls of men is with God. But people arrogant as we are, think we can fight that battle for God. Maybe God wants us to know for a fact that He is the only one that can fight this battle. Not us." 

then later, 

"I can't believe my own arrogance……..I have been acting as if I was calling on God. I was calling on God and expecting myself to fight this evil myself. I am a fool." 

and Pastor Paul admits the same sin, 

"I am too. I have been doing the same thing."

They then act on what they have to do: repent of their sin, 

"Lord", Josiah began, "help us. We have sinned against You. We have forgotten we are weak and cannot fight any battle without you. Please, God, help us. Please fight for us. In Jesus' name. Amen" 

Paul sighed. 

"Pride is such a deceitful thing-the heart of man laps it up like water."

Later, Doc Douglas, the veterinarian, humbles himself before God and beseeches Him to act on their behalf. God sends His angelic warriors to defeat Iconoclast. This humbleness is born out in the above biblical verses and is what God honours. 

Adding this obstacle to such an important spiritual warfare principle not only adds suspense and tension to the final confrontation scenes. It also adds to the entertainment value. This is very effective. However, it achieves another aspect of what Christian fiction can achieve: educate the reader. I always appreciate this educational inclusion. It shows that an author is willing to honour God in their writing by revealing more about His Word. It also shows they are willing vessels to allow their God-given talent to be used by Him for His purposes. And those purposes will be different to each reader as God reaches them where they are at. This is the second novel by Poll that I have read where she allows herself to be used like this. 

From this novel, Kat, Bart and Ken have now been through two demonic and supernatural events. They have seen both the destructive power of the demonic and the omnipotent power of God. I was hoping that by the end of the first novel, they would be convinced of the Gospel of Christ and become Christians. I am sure the author had reasons for not allowing their conversion thus far and that this would occur in this novel. However, Christian fiction needs to portray life as it is if the former is to be credible. Just as in real life, how many times have we witnessed to someone over a consistent period of time and they still do not accept the Gospel and the salvation that Jesus achieved on the Cross? 

Again, this adds more tension and suspense to the plot and spiritual warfare. However, after the defeat of Iconoclast, Poll has Bart and Ken stating that they now believe. This depiction is brief and more head knowledge than a heart transformation. I will have to wait until reading Gorgon to see if this is becomes a fully fledged conversion of the heart with accepting Jesus as Saviour. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed this novel and this has encouraged me to now move onto the next novel, Gorgon. This series keeps getting better and better! I can see why Poll is described on Amazon as "….America’s Lady of Supernatural Thrillers…." Quite a badge of honour but this one is less that the honour she shows in honouring the Word of God and keeping these novels biblically based. 

Strongly Recommended. 4/5 Stars

 

Posted in Christian Fiction, Creepy Supernatural Fiction, Supernatural Thrillers | 2 Comments

A Spiritual System for Rating BooksRavens Cove Award SF-Fiction-RavensCove resizeI am a Christian. I enjoy nothing more than a scary Christian supernatural thriller. However, they are few and far between. I’ve read books by Frank Peretti. I’ve read the Left Behind series. These writings are about the extent of what I’ve found to satisfy my craving for a good Christian supernatural thriller.

I once read a quote by Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Unknowingly, this is what I did when I wrote the Iconoclast Thriller series.

I started writing the series because I love a good, creepy story. I was unsure how to meld my love of goosebump-producing stories and my love for Christ. I had no need to worry. Ravens Cove, An Alaska Iconoclast Mystery did just that. All the books in the Iconoclast  series focus on the eternal battle for the human soul. What is creepier than knowing something so sinister and so evil is bent on having you serve his malevolent desires for all eternity?

As I wrote these novels, I prayed. I was concerned about ensuring both a fun read and a Christian one. In November, 2016, Ravens Cove was awarded the  “Spirit-filled Fiction Award of Excellence by Radiqx Press. I was both humbled and grateful for the Five-Star rating of Ravens Cove. As a Christian author, this is the highest award I could have received.

I found out that this award was based on the book A Spiritual System for Rating Books written by David Bergsland.

A Spiritual System for Rating Books uses a five-star approach to rating Christian fiction:

  • 1 Star—The Clean Read
  • 2 Star—The Legal Level
  • 3 Star—The Religious Level
  • 4 Star—Redemptive Fiction
  • 5 Star—Spirit-Filled Fiction

This short book outlining the different types of Christian fiction is both very informative and easy to read and understand.  If you’ve ever wondered what truly constitutes Christian fiction, I suggest you read  A Spiritual System for Rating Books. It will answer your questions and open your eyes.

You can obtain a copy here: https://gumroad.com/l/UoJq#

Or buy a copy from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-System-Rating-Books-ebook/dp/B01BPJPX2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1491939420&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Spiritual+System+for+Rating+Books

If you would like to read the full Ravens Cove review by Peter Younghusband, it is available on his website: http://christianfictionreviewguru.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/ravens-cove-welcome-to-ravens-cove.html

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RavenCoveCoverScanWeb”If you want spooky, eerie prose, this is the book to read. I like to read a trilogy or a series one book after the other so I waited until Mary Ann Poll wrote the third book in the trilogy before I started reading Ravens Cove. This is, in essence, a Christian series and although I'm not Christian I thoroughly enjoyed the story of good vs. evil. I became engrossed in the story and couldn't wait for the end so that I could start reading "Ingress", the second book. I'm in the middle of that one now, and it's just as malevolent in structure as the first one. I'm loving it!!” L.F. Geth

Geth's review comes from spooky, eerie scenes in the book, like this one:

    Iconoclast stood with his back against the slimy, pea-green wall on the north side of the ravine. His most trusted fighters surrounded him in a semicircle, the growing number of demons stood in larger semicircles around them, spanning the ravine to the slimed walls on the south side. He grinned. Just like all good vultures, they could smell blood and had come from around this puny world to feast on those that had taken it upon themselves to live here.

     He spoke to his captains—Gambogian, Caitiff, Venenose, Bruit, Trepaner, and Prevaricator. Atramentous and Profligacy, were absent by his orders. Guarding Plotno and his assembly

was their top priority. These eight had been with him in defeat in Josiah Williams’ horrid small town and in near-victory over the village in China. One man of God stood between him and complete conquest at that battle.

     “Tomorrow we will feast,” he rumbled, the strength of souls taken carrying that growl high and far. Those twins had been a surprise and increased his power threefold. They were considered as one, coming from the same egg, so he was able to take two at one time and still not break the laws of the game. Excerpt from Ravens Cove, An Alaska Iconoclast Thriller, by Mary Ann Poll

If you are looking for a goosebump producing supernatural thriller, and/or enjoy the epic battle between good and evil, then the Iconoclast series is for you. Available where fine books are sold.

www.author.maryannpoll.com

www.maryannpoll.com  

Until next time,

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20160724_102710Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas. It is located in East Texas, about two and a half hours from Dallas near the small historic town of Jefferson, population 2,024 give or take a few.

I would not use the word lake to describe Caddo. It is  a swamp. A beautiful, mysterious swamp. Large cypress trees rise majestically from its waters. Spanish moss drapes the branches.  All forms of wildlife call Caddo Lake home, including alligators which I’m happy to report I did not encounter.

Caddo was once a much larger body of water. So large that the town of Jefferson was a port for steamboats. Cotton farms from central Texas would bring their goods to Jefferson to be shipped to New Orleans where they received the best prices for the cotton.

 The first sawmill in the state of Texas was in Jefferson. The beautiful bald cypress were milled and the farmers took the planks back to central Texas where there were no trees. They built their homes with this wood. Some of these homes, I understand, are still standing today.

At its height, Jefferson, Texas had a population of 30,000. During this time, Jefferson was the largest and deadliest town on the western frontier. There were over 300 murders on the streets of Jefferson.

It is no wonder that Jefferson, Texas, is possibly the most haunted location in Texas and the perfect backdrop for a creepy, supernatural thriller.

All this history, and the mysterious nature of Caddo Lake, became the perfect setting for Book Four in the Iconoclast Thriller series, Dullahan, The Haunting of Bordman’s Crossing. I could almost see the Dullahan (the Irish version of a headless horseman) galloping in and out of the dense foliage along Caddo Lake’s banks. The quiet of the lake made it easy to imagine the sound of ghostly horse’s hooves pounding invisible earth. It would be easy, and believable, to glimpse the apparition in the dense trees where our tour boat could not go.

In summary, Caddo Lake is one of God’s beautiful mysteries. I highly suggest a visit if you are in northeastern Texas. Take a wonderful tour of the lake with Captain Ron Gibbs. His knowledge of Caddo and its history is valuable and interesting.

Source of Caddo Lake and Jefferson’s history: Captain Ron Gibbs

Posted in Creepy Supernatural Fiction | 2 Comments