The Reverend Ian Clark, pastor of a small church in Stonetree, California, has been hiding his resignation letter in his desk drawer for days, working up the nerve to call it quits on his position, his faith, and his dreams. For good. Haunted by past tragedy and his own personal failures, Ian lives up to the nickname given him by Professor Benjamin Keen, a world-traveling anthropologist and pioneer in syncretistic spirituality: “The Wandering Soul.”
But Ian’s plans stall out when Ruby Case, a member of his congregation and unremarkable housewife, accidentally raises a young boy from the dead.
As rumours, tabloids, and pilgrims converge on Stonetree, Ian and Ruby become increasingly aware that something big is happening. The druid doll on the front lawn, the frightening vision of a petrified tree, the ghost in Ian’s office—all point to realities they can’t see but must, somehow, confront. And then there’s the other resurrection . . .
Stonetree has long been rumoured to be a cursed town. Just how true that is, none of them really imagined. Somehow, Ruby Case and Ian Clark have unleashed war—and they have no choice but to see it through.
Mike Duran’s debut novel, The Resurrection, is top-notch paranormal suspense, reminiscent of Frank Peretti’s early spiritual warfare novels, but with a flavour all its own. Its intelligent blend of culture and history with paranormal elements is immensely appealing. Duran writes with cinematic sensibility, creating locales and encounters that appeal as strongly to the senses as to the mind and imprint themselves in visual splendour. He paints coastal California in perfect, vivid detail: I can still see redwoods and smell eucalyptus in the fog.
The characters are three-dimensional and engaging. (I’d very much like to sit down with Ian Clark and talk about his spiritual journey—and a few other topics as well. He’s the sort of smart, curious academic with whom I always enjoy conversing.) Their spiritual struggles are real: their questions, doubts, fears, hopes, and triumphs reflect real faith in a messy world.
I am somewhat ambivalent about the book’s depiction of spiritual warfare. Thoroughly enjoyable as adventure, mystery, and story of personal faith, The Resurrection isn’t so easily transferred to our everyday spirituality as Peretti’s This Present Darkness was. Duran is a writer of speculative fiction, and he speculates freely–about all sorts of things in the spiritual realm. As I’ve said in an article over at Speculative Faith, I came away a little confused on a few points, and feeling that it wouldn’t be too hard to interpret God as just another deity vying for control of the planet, rather than as the King of Kings thundering His authority over every inch of it. This is reality, but it’s not; the lines are blurry. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Even so, this one stays on my bookshelf, and I’m looking forward to Duran’s next title. If you read The Resurrection, tell me your thoughts about the spiritual stuff. I would love to hear what you think.