Beltran’s novel boasts strong pacing, with short chapters that often end on a cliffhanger or ominous note, enticing readers to keep turning the pages. Surprises and plot twists abound. But in this battle for Caleb’s soul, the otherworldly war between heaven and hell and the more grounded depiction of Caleb’s downfall do not fully mesh. The first half of the narrative reads like a horror story, focused more on Caleb’s moral descent; the fantastical elements aren’t really introduced until the epic concluding battles. For his part, Caleb doesn’t seem interested in determining his own place in the mystery that presents itself during the second half of his journey. He focuses entirely on regaining his family. Consequently, it can feel as though two separate stories are being told.
Far from keeping things prim and proper, Beltran’s book includes strip clubs, gang members, and murder, and his protagonist is apt to exclaim profanities, party, and take drugs. Another distinctive element is the use of Portuguese; many of the characters are from Portugal, and much of the religious terminology is in Portuguese (including “embaixador,” which means “ambassador”). Caleb’s narration is conversational, allowing readers to envision someone relatable sitting across from them, spinning this yarn. Readers of Christian fantasy who are looking for something action-packed and outside the box will find it here.
Takeaway: This unconventional work of Christian fantasy offers a distinctive twist on the genre.
Great for fans of: Frank E. Peretti’s This Present Darkness, William P. Young’s The Shack.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: C