Dras is the proverbial Prodigal Son, a guy who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the philosophies and ideals of his older brother who happens to be a Protestant pastor of the small town of Greensboro, is a typical rebel who defies the very elements that defines the values instilled by the traditions of his brother and his father before him. And then comes the Stranger, an embodiment of evil who ventures into town and creates all sorts of chaos and mayhem, making things not only really suck for everyone, but is a necessary element for those like Dras to either come to terms with the Christian realization and empowerment that he requires to face and ultimately defeat this evil, or to die a terrible death like the other victims of the onslaught instilled by the devilish Stranger who invades the town to claim un-Christian souls.
Greg Mitchell (not to be confused with the Greg Mitchell author of contemporary political and social bestsellers and commentaries for ABC News), is a man after my own heart. He has a love of creatures and monsters and the sort of creepy supernatural elements that, together with a yearning and knack for sitting down and writing about it, sows the seeds for someone great in the field. Firstly, Greg does have within him the makings of a great writer. His writing method is in its beginning stages, professionally, which is to say quite honestly that I should expect from him in that writing style to perfect his stuff to the point where he stands out and becomes more and more original, achieving that mark that pinpoints one writer from another, which makes a reader of the genre for years and years on end to say hey, that’s Greg Mitchell’s work. He has yet to achieve that, but he’s on his way.
Now, this is personal, so follow me here: I’ve spoken of Greg’s style, so now here are two points for him expressly, involving story originality and the expression of faith, and I say this from experience in that I, too, set out to tell a story of similar formula with the same expression of faith, to which, as my readers know, was blown all to hell in many ways when my first novel shifted along with my life and was as a consequence reconstructed. Firstly, the storyline itself, though highly readable, is way too predictable and follows a straight-forward plot scheme duplicated thousands of times….an evil comes to a town where a certain rebellious soul must figure out how to defeat it. And the evil has no motive but to simply do evil deeds, has no true indepth character or core motivation outside of itself, and the characters have no meaty integral driving substance that sets them apart from what readers are used to reading. The book is dripping with fundamentalist evangelical Christian rhetoric, where salvation only lies with whether or not the characters accept Christ as their personal savior. For a work of fiction along the lines of monsters and creatures and mayhem that invades a small town where townsfolk must fight against it, such a simple scenario need not be, and that’s not to say the author’s faith and message should not be sacrificed. It should be reinvented, reconstructed, re-expressed to say the same things while taking the reader into an exciting world no one’s ever entered before, while taking the preachiness and doing what, for instance, C.S. Lewis did, making the tale and its construction come first and its message be an underlying element expressed better in interviews.
I must be harsh with this, because I’m honest, and believe me, as a Christian and as a horror writer, I’ve been there before and I only say this in hopes that Greg takes what I say as not a negative review, because it isn’t, but a lesson from one who knows. I highly recommend this book to those of Christian persuasion who normally read nothing else outside the boundaries I speak of, but I know Greg will find after he flexes his literary muscles further that he can broaden not only his appeal and audience, but become a more seasoned, professional writer admired by the world as well.