by Thomas F. Monteleone
We’ve got a treasure chest of words we use when exploring things monumental. We use simpler words like excellent, amazing, gripping and powerful. We use terms like ‘show-stopping’ and ‘a masterpiece.’ Popular culture, however, has brought us to a point where words such as these have become so recognizable that they’ve lost some of their power, blunted with overuse. In the wake of these words slowly diminishing in impact, another is still present, taking their places and doesn’t seem to suffer the ill effects of its brethren. When we’re trying to portray the biggest of the big, the nastiest of the nasty, cataclysmic, world-shattering events, we use: biblical.
And that’s what this book is dealing with.
A young catholic priest, Peter, is a kind of shining star to his parishioners. A handsome, likable man with a strong moral center, he has a way with words and a rhythm of speech that captivates his audience who cannot help but absorb his message. Father Peter makes a run to a local, New York convenience store and is mugged at gunpoint. By the time the confrontation is over Peter is spooked out of his mind, and his assailant is a charred pile of ash. A local newswoman, Marion, becomes involved in the mystery of what happened and begins her investigation. Peter was an orphan, raised by the Catholic church in Rome, but his origin story may run much deeper. As Peter comes to grips with his burgeoning power, he travels the country setting up events to help and heal people in need. As his popularity grows so does the list of his enemies, for while a nation is focused on a man who may or may not be the second coming of Christ, other religious institutions are feeling the pinch as their followers stray to Peter’s camp and are bringing the situation to a head.
This book isn’t really about healing the sick, easing peoples’ pain in a troubled world, and handing out flowers at airports. It’s horror, have no doubts, and some of the descriptions of events will have you wincing. The sequel, appropriately titled The Reckoning, is next on the hit list because while this book is fantastic by itself there is very little resolution unless you use your imagination. If you’re going to read one, you’ll probably want the other close at hand.
Mr. Monteleone shows courage tackling this subject in the way he does. Today’s black and white landscape makes for easily acceptable stories when the good guy is shining and upright. and the bad guy is hideous and slinking in the shadows. When a story like this comes along where the lines aren’t fully illuminated and everyone has to figure out what’s going on, it’s risky considering the fire that could come from wingnut groups who themselves have the only, true answer to religion (i.e. every one of them).
You’ll love this story. When talking about the possible end of our world, not in a ‘there will be but few survivors’ way, but in an ‘end of the world, period,’ way, this book isn’t just an ambitious project, it’s downright biblical.
“You don’t fuck with King Kong. Surely a corollary would be that you don’t fuck with the Son of God.”