the oath

Frank Peretti
Word Publishing
1995

Wildlife biologist Steve Benson is investigating a series of bizarre and baffling deaths outside of Hyde River, an old mining town deep in the mountains, after a photographer is killed while on a camping expedition, his wife driven nearly insane by what she saw. Only she doesn’t quite remember what it was she saw. The local authorities have ruled the death a bear attack, and seem bent on leaving it as that. Benson, however, doesn’t hold to that theory, since the body- the part that they could find, anyway- looked like it was bitten clean in half, and the only bear they caught in the vicinity had nothing indicating human remains in its stomach. As Benson dives deeper into the mystery surrounding this and other similar deaths in the area, he stirs up the resentment of the townfolk, and stumbles upon a living Evil as old as the town itself, and equally bonded with it and its people…

The Oath is the first book I read of Peretti’s that made me look at him in a much more generous light than just “that guy who writes angel books”. His first three books notwithstanding, I do believe that Peretti found his true stride in the world of fantasy fiction with this book. In it, he strikes a nice balance between fantasy fiction and and subtle analogy. What I like about Peretti’s style is that, while he’s a Christian, he’s not afraid to inject dark situations that have a disturbing edge (a bit more tastefully done than some authors in the field, mind you, but still quite edgy for most Christian fiction).

What I also dug on was the way Peretti used the existence of the…creature (I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag, although after ten years, that may be a moot point) as a metaphor to the way one’s debase nature, if left unchecked and ignored, can grow over time and finally consume you. To that end, there’s quite a few bodies…well, half of ’em anyway, scattered around this story. And while the point’s there, Peretti was wise enough to not bludgeon the reader with all the subtlety of a piano dropped on you from the top of the Empire State Building. The readers being intelligent enough to figure out homology…there’s a concept for Christian fiction…

Those who enjoy the work of Dean Koontz I believe will find The Oath a more than satisfying read. Highly recommended for those searching for Christian fiction that’s engaging and not at all pandering…

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