21/06/2005

This Present Darkness

I like to vary the style of books I read, so yesterday afternoon I picked up 'This Present Darkness' by Frank Peretti. I thought it would last me a few days, maybe even a week, since I've read it twice before: first in about 1993, and again maybe about 1999.

However I was quickly gripped: I read far longer than I planned to yesterday, and finished the book this afternoon. I didn't have quite the suspense of my first reading since I did vaguely remember what happened, but not being a fan of suspense, that added to my enjoyment rather than the reverse.

The basic plot is that some strange and disturbing things are happening in a small American town called Ashton. Underlying this is some dramatic spiritual warfare - angels against demons, good vs evil in the ultimate sense. The one person standing against the rise of evil in Ashton is the pastor Hank Busche, well-supported by his wife Mary and a few faithful members of the congregation. Others of his flock are less keen on him, and set him up for a fall.

The other main character of the book is Marshall Hogan, new owner of the Clarion newspaper. His daughter is caught up in some very odd happenings at the university, and he's determined to get to the bottom of them.

So it's a thriller with an element of fantasy thrown in, probably closest in genre to CS Lewis's 'That Hideous Strength', although nowhere near as well written. The style is terse and exciting; in places rather gratingly informal. There's not much character development, the conversations seem stilted at times, and the plot is rather far-fetched. All in all, not my kind of book - yet I've just read it for the third time, and found it difficult to put down. No doubt I'll read it again in a few years.

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