CSFF Blog Tour – The Resurrection by Mike Duran, Day 3


Mike Duran's debut novel


I’ve been enjoying this month’s CSFF tour of Mike Duran’s The Resurrection immensely. We’ve had reviews, interviews, and guest posts, discussions of themes, of characters, and genre — all of it interesting and generating lots of comments. Now it’s my turn to put aside the multitude of ideas and tell you what I think about the book itself.

Bear in mind that supernatural thriller or contemporary gothic or whatever label you might prefer as the identifier for this book, is not my genre of choice. That has two affects, I believe. First, my ignorance of the genre tropes makes the story seem to me like one of a kind.

One reviewer referred to the novel having the “standard props you’d expect from a supernatural/religious thriller.” Well, I had no expectations, so I saw nothing “standard” about any of the characters or “props.”

Secondly, I started my reading experience with considerable wariness. Was the book going to be too scary? Would I find the supernatural elements too contradictory to my understanding of what the Bible says?

With that groundwork in place, let me move on.

The Review

The Story. Ian Clark, a troubled, doubting pastor, has a number of secrets, not the least of which is that his church office is haunted. His intention is to resign his position.

When during a funeral, one of his congregants, Ruby Case, apparently raises to life the boy due for burial, all hell breaks loose. Well, perhaps not all hell, but certainly a good deal more supernatural activity than the average churchgoer at Canyon Springs Community was used to.

The question of the day — on which side of the divide would Reverend Clark end up?

Strengths. If I hadn’t known this was a debut novel, I would never have guessed this was a debut novel. Nothing about The Resurrection screamed first-timer, let alone, amateur.

Instead, the writing was tight, the scenes drawn clearly, the characters believable, and the story moving inexorably forward. About a third of the way through, I was hooked.

In addition to an enticing story, well told, I found lots to think about in The Resurrection with no easy answers or neatly delivered fix-its at the end.

Don’t get me wrong. When a story wraps, I want a satisfying conclusion. I don’t want to spend three hundred pages, only to be left guessing at the outcome. And yet, I think the story needs to end with more life in the characters, so it’s possible to wonder what might be happening now. That gives the reader room to imagine.

Overall, I’d say Mike’s first novel harkens back to Frank Peretti’s breakout hits, This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness. Certainly the stories are different, so I’m not saying he slipped into the dreaded “derivative” trap. Rather, they have a common feature — both Mr. Peretti’s works and Mike’s ignite an awareness of the supernatural, even as they tell entertaining stories.

Weaknesses. I mentioned that I became hooked into the story a third of the way along. The first third, however, I was merely nibbling at the worm dangling in front of me. In part, I attribute that to the fact that, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t care for this particular type of worm.

However, there was more. I didn’t care for the characters either. I know that will shock some of those who have read and reviewed the book, because most reports rave about the characters. They were, without a doubt, well-drawn. The problem was, I didn’t like them.

* * * Minor Spoiler Alert * * *

I didn’t care for Clark because he was spineless and hypocritical. He was going along to get along and wouldn’t say what he really believed. He seemed the opposite of proactive.

I didn’t care for Ruby because she didn’t immediately deflect to God the recognition she was receiving for the miraculous resurrection. Instead, she let people treat her as if she was the one who had done something, yet in her mind she continually said she’d only touched the boy.

Still, when people wanted her to pray for them, she did, even believing that her prayers might duplicate the miracle. At one point she asked why this gift was given to her only to be taken away. I wanted to shout, You were only the conduit. You never had the power in the first place!

Finally, I didn’t care for any of the elders. I thought they were too stupid or too weak to be realistic. I pretty much wanted to hit each one up side the head and say, Find out if the boy was embalmed and then you’ll know if he was really dead or not. And start thinking about the church instead of yourselves.

Despite those early negative reactions, I surprisingly came to care for the characters in the end. I suspect the change came about when I learned a little more about Clark’s background, when I saw Ruby make self-sacrificial choices, when events were no longer happening to them, but they began taking the fight to the forces against the town.

* * * End Spoiler Alert * * *

Recommendation. I don’t know how regular readers of horror or supernatural suspense will react to this one. One reviewer called The Resurrection “gothic” which brought to my mind Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë or Jane Erye by Charlotte Brontë. That seemed to fit.

I suspect any fans of Frank Peretti, myself included, will embrace The Resurrection wholeheartedly. I highly recommend they give it a try.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm  Comments (11)  
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