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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,
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."
"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"
"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