Title: All Things Bright and Strange
Author: James Markert
No. of pages: e-book; 369 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Fantasy, Supernatural, Christian Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Date Read: March 11, 2018
In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.
The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.
Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.
The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven. (Goodreads)
I was given this e-book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Going into this book, I wasn’t quite sure what it was truly about. The summary seemed intriguing, and now having read it, the summary tells you what happens in the book. Personally, this probably isn’t a book I’ll pick up again. For me, it was a tad anti-climatic and the Christian themes were evident and semi-well-written.
This book takes place in 1920’s South Carolina and follows Ellsworth Newberry. Ellsworth is a guy in his 20’s who has just come back from WWI without his best friend and his leg and returns to the town where he grew up but also where he lost his wife, Eliza. Ellsworth, while trying to figure out some way to live is still seen as the undeclared town leader. Everyone looks up to him. After an incident in the woods, Raphael, the boy his wife died trying to save, brings him to this chapel in the woods where he hears his wife’s voice and then everything starts to go downhill from there that ends in a fight between good and evil; pieces on a chessboard that have been moved and put in place in order that evil may win. But in the end, good prevails.
The main thing I liked about this book was the image of what the town was. In the beginning, and again, in the end, the town and the people in it were wonderfully written. It held the idea of being different from the other towns around it because of the inclusion of everyone. The first picture that you get is everyone in the town hall dancing and having fun, regardless of their religion or race. I LOVED that. For me, it reinforced the idea of what true fellowship is supposed to be. On Wednesday nights, the youth group I volunteer at are going through a series that just went over the inclusiveness of Heaven and how it was meant to be multi-ethnic, not segregated. This scene again, reinforced that idea for me before it all was torn to shreds.
All throughout the book, there was this idea of evil showing itself as good; looking nice until you get to the layer underneath. From the beginning, you can tell there’s something off about this “chapel” in the woods. But nothing is really certain until about 75% through and then you hit the point of realizing that it’s more than it seems. There were lots of Christian themes and references that were obvious and some that were hidden and meant to be thought about.
For me, this book at times was a bit confusing, and to enjoy it fully, you might need to have some basis or knowledge of Christianity. If you’ve read anything by Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti, you’ll definitely like this book.