As a child, Zephaniah had a gift. Some might call it a word of knowledge. He called it the Telling. When God chose, Zephaniah could see the future. His mother had taken him around to churches, drawing crowds and taking in the offerings. His mother had died while he was still young. He father had remarried … a crazy woman.
Now, years later, Zephaniah lives in seclusion in a small town at the northern fringe of Death Valley. He is alienated from his father and he bears the hideous facial scar he received from his stepmother.
Endurance is a town near abandoned mines, one of which legend has as the mythical ninth gate of hell. Strange things have gone on near that mine.
Zeph is called in by the police to identify a body. He is startled to find out the face of the dead being is his own but the rest of the body is strange. The legs are leathery, almost reptilian. Who is this creature?
As Zeph tries to understand what is happening, more of the ghastly creatures appear, taking over humans, feeding on the dark parts of their soul. It appears Zeph is the only person who can seal up that gate of hell and prevent the demons from taking over the town. But he has rejected his calling and turned away from it. Will God still use him?
This is a pretty good tale of good and evil. Zeph was scarred by his stepmother but was scarred even more deeply in his soul. Bitterness towards his father is the darkness the demons can feed on. If he doesn't deal with that, he will be consumed like the others.
My favorite character in the novel is the spunky Tamra. And there is Tamra's grandmother, Annie, a godly woman who is determined to not let the evil consume the town.
There are perhaps too many quirky characters in the novel. At times I felt they confused the plot. I felt that these other characters frequently took the responsibility off of Zeph. I think a fewer number of characters would have emphasized Zeph's spiritual struggle all the more.
Nonetheless, this is a good novel in the spiritual science fiction kind of genre. It reminds us of the spiritual warfare around us and it made me wonder again, just what is the government up to in those experiments in the desert?
Mike Duran is a blogger, speaker, and freelance writer. He is the author of The Resurrection. An ordained minister, Mike lives with his wife and four grown children in Southern California. You can learn more about him and his writing projects at www.mikeduran.com.
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Realms (a division of the Charisma House Book Group), 303 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.