Original Books

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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Other Side of Darkness by Melody Carlson

Ruth lives in fear of the demons she believes are trying to attack her. Her pastor preaches doom and destruction is coming to their town. He claims he can see the demons lurking. Ruth strikes a friendship with her pastor's right-hand woman, Cynthia, under the job of being her prayer partner. Cynthia fills her mind with all kinds of notions about driving evil spirits out of anything and everything. Ruth's husband and son refuse to return to church with her and greatly discourage her to do so as well. So Ruth drags her two young daughters along with her every chance she can get to the place that fills their heads with nightmares. Slowly but surely, Ruth descends into a troubling mental state that can only be reversed by her letting go of her demons.

Melody Carlson seems to specialize in female leads with mental disorders, and it is actually quite interesting and original. Ruth is a good character besides her realistic mental state. She starts out as a semi-normal person and gradually descends deeper and deeper into complete insanity. One of the best things about this plot was Melody's realistic handling of the demons. The end is neither original nor perfect, but appropriate.

This book is filled with imperfect characters. You won't find a perfect mentor character even if you searched. Not only that, but they all have well-defined personalities. This is the book's biggest asset because without good characters, this plot is virtually nothing.

Though this book is not marketed as a comedy, the "spiritual" antics of Ruth and Cynthia are very comical to a true Christian. Casting spirits out of Ruth's daughters, Ruth's husband, Ruth's son, picture frames, books, turkey pans, and the like are so ridiculous they're funny. Seeing demons in every corner is just part of Ruth's troubled mental state. But when one steps back and thinks about the real meaning of all this, it's scary to think that there are really people out there who get themselves caught up in such deceived or deceiving pseudo-Christian cults. Melody has addressed this issue in the correct way, thus making this book better than most cult suspense.

But while the end is realistic, is not entirely original. This is not the best way she could have ended it, but it is a better way than any other author would have ended it. There are actually several things that go untended to, which is also realistic, but this book just does not have that five star push.

But Melody should not beat herself up about this. She has written the first Elite cult book to date. So many authors would have handled this in the wrong way, but she handled it correctly. She is definitely improving as an author and it will be interesting to see what she will do down the stretch.

4.5 stars

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