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