Book 3 of the Perfect Prophet series, now available. Faith healer Alec can never forgive his brother Lucas for the scars he was left with after the Temple of Adonis Christian commune massacre. And Lucas doesn't want to be forgiven. The fallout from their longstanding feud puts the lives of others at risk, as the Satanic cult that Lucas once led seeks to regain its former glory. Those lives include a father who seeks retribution for his paraplegic daughter, and Alec's wife and son who are ready to leave Alec and their own traumatic past behind. But the new Satanic cult leader still has faith in the horrific prophecy that made the atheist Alec into a Christian star: 'Death to the son--The misguided one--New life for the unholy spirit.' The prophecy was misinterpreted. They targeted the wrong son. And only one person can save them all from being sacrificed for the sake of the cult's lofty goal. It's Lucas. The misguided one. New life for the unholy spirit.
Now, though, as the cult he once led gathers its power to fulfill that still-unresolved prophecy, Lucas realizes he can’t hide out from responsibility, especially when a teen believer in Alec is taken by the cult and forced to watch her mother’s murder. That’s just scratching the surface of the complexities and surprises of this series, which takes matters of faith, morality, family, and trauma seriously, while still steeping readers in cult and supernatural horror that Johnson, even three books in, pens with fresh, unsettling relish. Highlights include ravens, a wicked knife, a blood ritual, and Lucas’s continual feeling of being “back on his knees, head bowed before the God who hated him.”
The plotting is more dense than in previous entries, with many characters and mysteries to track—new readers should not expect to pick up the gist, and even returning fans should probably look back at the previous book, Prophet Reborn, for context, clarity, and richer connections. What works best is the heart that has always set this series apart, the sense of fraternal bonds and the weight of destiny, but also the possibility, even amid cult murders, of redemption.
Takeaway: Bold climactic volume of a belief-themed horror series that takes faith and evil seriously.
Comparable Titles: Lynn Hightower, Greg F. Gifune’s Children of Chaos.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
IR Rating 3.5 Stars...
Author Diane M. Johnson builds a universe... populated by interesting characters in PERFECT SACRIFICES (Perfect Prophet Book 3), a brutal story of gray moralities and dark magic with a surprising finale...
A struggle between a Satanist cult and the people caught up in its prophecies reaches its crescendo in this bleak, violent horror novel... Johnson has done an excellent job of building a believable fictional universe in PERFECT SACRIFICES (Perfect Prophet Book 3)....The violence can be brutal, so those with triggers tied to torture and killing will have a tough go of it. The Satanists are literally everywhere in this small Midwestern community...Good people are introduced, try to do the right thing, and are betrayed by a Satanist in their midst...in some horrible way...Lucas is an effective character, a man tortured by his own past actions and desperate to make good, even if it means repeatedly putting himself in harm’s way. Johnson’s plotting is intelligent, and if it never quite surprises it also never veers into the ridiculous. The final act holds a few surprises, especially considering how brutal the bulk of the story is. For fans of bloody, magical, religion-flavored mayhem, this will do just fine.
Author Diane M. Johnson builds a universe that feels real, populated by interesting characters in PERFECT SACRIFICES (Perfect Prophet Book 3), a brutal story of gray moralities and dark magic with a surprising finale.
~Jeff Somers for IndieReader
This third installment of Johnson’s Perfect Prophet supernatural thriller series finds family and friends caught in a cult’s web of rituals and retribution.
Devil worshipping death-metal guitarist Alec Lowell left all that behind to become a faith healer. In the same vein, his Satanist half-brother, Lucas, lives a quiet life in a Wisconsin cemetery after leaving a cult. But now cult members want Lucas as a sacrifice for “the Dark One.” When they snatch Ally Reeves, an innocent teen girl, Lucas is convinced it’s to draw him into the open. He rushes to help her, but she isn’t the only person these vicious people have their sights on: It’s not long before others in the half-brothers’ orbit are in jeopardy, including Alec’s ex-wife, Belinda, and their son, Jake, as well as Jake’s girlfriend, Maggie. Lucas isn’t on the best of terms with everyone—as a member of the cult, he once kidnapped Jake “with some deranged notion to repent for his sins.” Nevertheless, they’ll need to rely on one another to stand against a group of merciless killers. As in the series’ previous installments, the story is bleak and violent, sometimes graphically so (“Shein’s abductor pried open his jaw while the female assistant grabbed hold of the tongue with a spring clamp…”). The narrative moves at a blistering pace, dishing out copious twists throughout rather than saving them for the final act. This sequel nudges the spotlight away from the half-brothers and allows the outstanding supporting cast to shine, especially Belinda and Maggie. The supernatural elements are understated; magic is in play but no single character is all powerful (that doesn’t make the villains any less horrifying as they seemingly come out of nowhere). The author deftly integrates pre-existing subplots and character relationships, but readers may want to check out the preceding books first to avoid spoilers. While a fourth installment is possible, this one concludes on a satisfying note.
A somber, kinetically charged, character-driven sequel. -- Kirkus Reviews
Perfect Sacrifices is a work in the horror, interpersonal drama, and family relationships subgenres, forming the third novel of the Perfect Prophet book series. It is best suited to the mature adult reading audience owing to explicit and graphic content relating to torture, sexual situations, abuse, violence, and suicide... The saga continues for half-brothers Alec and Lucas. After trying to live a quieter life in a lighter world, the cult that Lucas once ran calls him back to be a prime sacrifice for the Dark One. This puts everyone in danger and causes the brothers to explore deep familial issues to find their faith and sanity again.
Diane M. Johnson has crafted a truly unique horror series like nothing I’ve encountered before. I adored the emotional, psychological, and social complexity with which this story is told. Alec and Lucas are an interesting dynamic, each damaged by past experiences but attempting to heal in their unique approaches. When they come together, things get explosive, unlocking a dark interpersonal history with many shocking moments to overcome. While the novel is graphic, it never felt gratuitous, and the more intense scenes and darker mental health themes only served to intensify the emotional core of the plot and make us all the more invested in finding hope again. Overall, Perfect Sacrifices is recommended for fans of intricately penned horror and intelligent discussions of faith and family dynamics.