The Forresters have found their dream home… So has something else.
After years of moving from place to place, Andy and Tess are ready to settle down. But from the day they moved into the sprawling Victorian house, something just wasn't right.
The power cuts out twice a day on a fixed schedule. Windows unlock and open on their own. Strange scratching sounds come from behind the walls. As the bizarre occurrences continue to increase in frequency and strength, the true source of the extraordinary activity is revealed.
What started as an enchanting curiosity has become a danger to them all, and the Forresters are in a race against time to save their family from an enemy unlike anything they have ever known.
I first read this before it was published as an advanced readers copy from Jess. I had not written a review after reading it, just emailed the author my thoughts and impressions. It was only after starting this blog and checking my reviews on Amazon, that I realised I had not honoured Jess with an official review. To do so would mean reading this again. This was also another excuse to revisit this novel.
I was taken in then and am just as taken in now. This is even better the second time round!
This novel was the second horror story I had ever read and was read soon after the first which was Something Stirs by Thomas Smith. Both books are written by Christian authors and both deal with haunted houses by demons and deal with demon possession. Both also deal with these topics using spiritual warfare as outlined in the bible. But enough of the comparison between these two books, however, I must say they compliment each other very well, and both are a credit to each author. It was both these two authors and their horror stories that have convinced me that Christian authors have just as much or even more ability to write convincing horror especially when it is based on the source of horror as documented in the Bible, through the fall of satan and the other angels and their transformation into evil entities and their maleficent, deceptive and manipulative intentions in our lives.
Hanna has set a nice, even pace in the first half of this novel, introducing the characters, establishing the family dynamics, moving into and settling into the house, while interspersing certain incidents that, while not at first deemed to be demonic activity or out of the ordinary, but soon increase in frequency and become more bizarre, leading to Andy and Tess believing that something supernatural is occurring and is definitely of a malevolent nature as evidenced by the disruption to their lives and the effects its oppression on their personalities and relationships.
The second half of the novel definitely has a faster pace with the activity of the supernatural increasing, now being identified as a demon spirit that has its sights set on Alexis to possess and control. Hanna definitely adds more clues and explanation to what this demon is, why it is here, what its motivation is and as it possesses Alexis more and more, its power and activity is more extensive and destructive to Alexis, Tess, Andy and Jonathan. The parents try everything they know or think of to rid themselves and their house of this demon, including a paranormal investigator and his family. All this does is make things worse, ridding the house of the demon but then inviting more of them to inhabit the house and possess Alexis even more. This is very biblical as the bible states that if a demon is exorcised and the person not then inhabited by God's presence/Spirit, more demons come and inhabit the person.
The attempts by the local Catholic priest to rid these demons does nothing except to cause his death, increase the demons power and the despair of Andy and Tess. However, through this priest, Hanna introduces the origin of these demons, and it seems to be linked to Tess's past, namely that of the sins of her alcoholic father being passed onto through subsequent generations. Again, this is biblical as the bible states that the sins of the fathers are passed on through the 3rd and fourth generations.
One could wonder what could happen next to rid the house of these demons. Here Hanna introduces the biblical principle of spiritual warfare in the form of Tess' mother, Claire, who is a Christian and after being told what has been happening, realises that the only way to end this is through prayer and using the authority of Jesus as outlined in the Bible. Her first attempts have limited success, not due to this bible truth being ineffective, but due to her emotions blocking her faith, but her attempt does evoke a defensive, defiant and aggressive response from the demons. It is obvious from this reaction that the demons are threatened by the mention of God and Jesus. It is here that she realises she has no choice but to involve the services of her Pastor.
Hanna progresses the spiritual warfare principles here by preparing the Pastor with prayer, submission to God, and obedience to His will. On my first reading of this novel, I did not realise this Pastor was the same as that of Hanna's first novel, The Road To Hell!! This is a welcome connection to this previous novel and adds strength to the plot and characterisation.
From this point on, Hanna really shines with the spiritual warfare aspects. The way Pastor Tom prepares Andy to be the one to break the demonic power over Alexis and his family is very well done and give honour and credence to the Bible and God's power and sovereignty. Again, he has followed biblical principles where the power and authority over demons can only be given to someone who has accepted Jesus as Saviour and repented of their sin and been forgiven and born again spiritually. The scene in the novel where Pastor Tom encourage Andy to accept Jesus as Saviour in order to defeat the demons is a real cliff hanger as Hanna portrays Andy's confusion, despair and frustration very well. I started to cheer Andy on with this, knowing the truth of the bible in this matter!!
Hanna has created the ending of this novel to be fast paced on its own, the final confrontation between the power and authority of God against this demon. It is totally absorbing and very descriptive. It reads like a movie scene as it is played out in the reader's mind. This is the most horrifying part of the novel and the most dramatic.
If someone was to ask what Christian horror is like, this novel could be presented to answer that question.