9/22/2006

FRANK PERETTI--AHEAD OF HIS TIME

by Deb Cullins-Smith

Since we're discussing Christian speculative fiction, I think it only fitting that we mention a man who is undoubtedly the 'godfather' of all spec fiction. Frank Peretti spent over 150 consecutive weeks on the CBA Best-Seller List for his first novel, This Present Darkness in 1986, thus introducing us to a whole new genre – the supernatural thriller. In the small town of Ashton, a skeptical reporter and a dedicated pastor find themselves in the middle of a terrible New Age plot to subjugate the townspeople. The book represented the most insightful novel in spiritual warfare since C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. His follow-up novel, Piercing the Darkness, established Peretti as more than a one-shot wonder. Since his initial success, he has followed up with bestsellers such as Tilly, The Oath, The Visitation, Prophet, Monster, and most recently, House, with co-author Ted Dekker.

My personal favorite is still The Oath. Wildlife biologist Steve Benson visits the Pacific Northwest town of Hyde River to investigate the death of his brother Cliff, supposedly by a bear attack. Working with Sheriff's Deputy Tracy Ellis, he uncovers more than he bargained for. After years of seeing strange incidents swept under the rug, Tracy ruffles feathers by revealing some of the town secrets – the deep, dark legends passed down for generations – placing them in danger from far more than angry citizens. The only other person willing to talk to them openly is the town "crazy", a born again Christian named Levi Cobb. What these three unlikely companions uncover could sign their death warrants at the hands of a madman – or the claws of a legendary beast.

After reading this book at least a dozen times, I purchased the audio book and listened to it until I could almost quote the lines with Joseph Campanella, the actor who read this masterpiece so brilliantly. It remains my favorite piece of spec fiction ever written.

Whether Peretti is writing about fallen angels, Bigfoot, dragons, or haunted houses, he spins a web so sticky you'll not be able to extricate yourself! With bigger-than-life characters so alive they leap from the page, this author spins a plot that keeps you riveted until the very last sentence, bringing spiritual warfare and truth to a new level of awareness.

Frank Peretti paved the super-highway for those of us who love spec fic and supernatural thrillers. Thank you, Mr. Peretti! And thank You, Lord, for sending us a writer who shows us that our imaginations can still run wild without resorting to worldly themes.

email Deb Cullins-Smith

3 comments:

Dan Edelen said...

I've never been happy with the Peretti I've read. I suspect the reason is that I find the way he reveals his ultimate message to be heavy-handed. His tendency is to sledgehammer readers with his main idea over and over again. That gets old fast.

Frank Creed said...

Peretti reminds me of Tolkien.

When I was fourteen years old, mom noticed me squinting allot. She took me to the optometrist, who found me mildly nearsighted.
What mom didn't know is that I'd just read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, under the covers, by the very dim light of my electric blanket switch.

While I loved Tolkien as a youth, as many times as I've tried rereading his works, I've never made it past 100 pages--same with Peretti. I found Lewis' Screwtape to be conceptually great, but very dry. I fell in love with Peretti's Darkness on his concept of spec-fic's supernatural sub-genre. Like LotR, every time I've attempted a reread of Darkness, I've failed.

We owe who we are to genre-founders, even if, in our maturity, we gag on their style and voice.


"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."--G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

To God be the glory,
Scott “Frank Creed” Morris
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e-mail: frankcreed@insightbb.com
Home: http://www.frankcreed.com
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Book Review Blog: http://afrankreview.blogspot.com/
Lost Genre Guild Blog: http://lostgenre.blogspot.com/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Andrea Graham said...

ALL: Yes, I loved Peretti, and still do to an extent, but looking back, he got away with murder in the Visitation. An unknown never could have mixed third person narration with a first person narrator like that. And to me it's morally wrong to write like that just because you know (or think) you can get away with it. I still like his work, but it's dangerous when you let sucess go to your head.