Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer

Jaimie is a twelve year old foster kid. Her troubled childhood has relegated her to school classes for challenged kids. But she trusts her teacher, Mr. G.
Jamie can sense evil and it terrifies her. When she feels the evilness of the man who has come to her foster home, she escapes and runs to Mr. G. for protection.
Thus begins a wild adventure for Crockett Grey, Jaimie's teacher. Jaimie doesn't want to go back to the foster home. When Grey, grandmotherly neighbor Nanna, and Jaimie drive to the home, they find it burning. Jaimie spends the night with Nanna but in the morning, Grey is arrested. He's caught with an underage girl in his house, Nanna is missing, and child porn is found in his attic.
As this novel progresses the action centers around the Vatican. The current pope is in a coma and will die in days. Three Cardinals are in the running for the position. But one of them is a Satan worshipper and must be stopped at all cost. Will the Church Exorcist be able to arrange for Jaimie to be in Rome in time to draw out the evil in the man so others can know the truth? Or will the demon possessed Cardinal succeed in having his lackeys rid the world of Jaimie and Grey?

Brouwer has created a contemporary story of the classic battle between good and evil. It gets off to a bit of a slow start. I was at page 120 before I finally felt compelled to continue reading. It is at this point the Vatican connection is made clear. I would have preferred that hook much earlier in the book.
The novel revolves around demon possession, or does it? There is a twist at the very end of the book that makes you wonder.
While the novel is about good and evil, evangelical Christians may be disappointed that with such an important theme, the gospel is missing. While in the end the good wins out (or then again, maybe not), it is not because of the power of God but because of conniving by church leaders. At the end Grey hesitantly comes to acknowledge that if demons exist, then God must too. But the final twist may destroy any move by the reader to believe in spiritual beings.
I wonder – who are the readers for whom the novel was written? There is no gospel message. There is no “good wins over evil because of God” message. There is intrigue. There is manipulation by powerful men in the Catholic Church. There is the final twist that makes the readers wonder if all the fuss about demons is worth it.
So who should read this book? Not nonChristians. Their view of the Church as a manipulative organization bent on power grabbing will be reinforced. Christians who believe in the reality of spiritual warfare will be disappointed in the book's weak position on that theme. I guess someone who likes a novel of suspense and doesn't mind the spiritual conclusions would find the book satisfying.

I received a copy of this book from WaterBrook Press for the purpose of this review.

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