by Regional Cook
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Christian
Print Length: 506 pages
Reviewed by Timothy Thomas
An imaginative tale exploring the dynamic between the spiritual and physical realms
Regional Cook’s work of religious fiction stands out as a unique take on a common formula within Christian-based entertainment, whereby a person (or people) manages to find Christ despite the troubles of life, and often because of them.
Written for Christians and non-Christians alike, The Calling is a powerful illustration of Ephesians 6:12, highlighting the idea that we affect the spirit realm and it affects us. The relationship between the seen and unseen is placed front and center with diverse and compelling characters who are unknowingly placed on the front lines of the battle between God and Satan.
One morning, seven different individuals from various walks of life and no direct connection to one another find themselves in possession of an incredible gift—the ability to heal others. Among them are a divorced woman whose drinking problem resulted in the death of her son and subsequent dissolution of her marriage, a cartel leader serving time in prison for a murder he did not commit, and a fraud of a pastor who fakes healings at his church to bring in more money.
As each person becomes more aware of their gift, their lives become increasingly connected despite concerted attempts to keep them apart by members of the SNATAS CORP, the physical embodiment of the Devil’s kingdom, staffed by demons/fallen angels and headed by Satan himself. They are opposed by members of the NEDE Corporation, angels of God in disguise led by none other than Gabriel to bring the seven together for the purposes of God’s will.
With each side vying for prominence, the lives of the seven become ground zero for God’s eternal conflict with Satan, resulting at times in fear, anger, and death, but also love, joy, and redemption.
The Calling is a well thought-out interpretation of the interplay between the spiritual and natural realm. Though formulaic in its overarching story, it still manages to tell a genuinely captivating story as you follow these characters through some terribly dark places to share a message about the depths of God’s love and the seemingly limitless extent of His mercy and grace. The unapologetic way in which the book approaches and deals with the often grim reality of life and the situations we have to deal with gives the impression that the author fully believes in the message but also understands and sympathizes with the difficulties we all have to contend with.
As good as the book is, it does suffer in a way that takes us out of the story, and there is a good example of that already written above. (SNATAS CORP is just SATANS with one letter moved, and NEDE is just EDEN spelled backward.) This book does not handle all subtlety well, and its approach can feel heavy-handed or too on the nose. Sometimes it affects the dialogue in a negative way, where it just doesn’t feel like a real conversation, and other times it affects an important moment in the story to the extent that it lessens the impact. Particularly where the angels and demons interacting is concerned, it can come across as too obvious.
While it may fall short in the details, The Calling succeeds where many others have failed: a compelling Christian storyline with a triumphant message. The surprising depth of the characters and the grounded reality of the world are both wins for this book and make its 500+ pages less page-counting and more page-turning.
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