Let Me Tell You About “The Telling” — Day 1 Book Review

Okay, so “The Telling” — an excellent and very bold entry in the genre of Christian speculative fiction by one of the premier writers and bloggers out there, Mike Duran. But, before I get into my review of this book, let me say something from my heart.

Our very own moderate of this most excellent blog tour had this to say about Christian speculative fiction:

The term speculative includes the various forms of fantasy (urban, epic, dystopian, etc.), science fiction (space opera, techno, cyberpunk, etc.), and supernatural suspense or thriller (terms for types of horror). Christian speculative fiction is written by a Christian, but not everything written by Christians qualifies as “Christian.” Rather some element of the story needs to be distinctly connected with what it means to be Christian. Perhaps the characters are predominantly Christian. The plot might revolve around something distinctly Christian. Or the themes may relate in a specific way to the Christian faith. And here is the point that separates Christian fiction, I believe, from all other fiction. Christian fiction speaks the truth about God. Other fiction can speak the truth about morals or the way the world works or what makes a person love or hate or live on the edge. Other fiction might be silent about God. Other fiction might speak a lie (though undoubtedly the author believes that what he’s written is true) about any of these things. Only Christian fiction speaks the truth about God.

Rebecca LuElla Miller

I have spoken several times on the current state of Christian Speculative Fiction at, of all things, apologetics conferences (Apologetics is the field of the defense of the truth of the Christian faith). I have often mentioned that Michael Hyatt, Chairman of the Board of Thomas Nelson, once commented that Christian Speculative Fiction was the fastest growing genre in Christian fiction.

Well, my friends and colleagues, we are on the verge of seeing Christian Speculative Fiction (CSF) disappear from our universe. Well, maybe not all CSF, but at least very good, well written, bold, edgy CSF that dares to push us outside of our tidy little blue police boxes into a world that is much larger on the outside than on the inside. (Let he who has ears listen! While wearing a fez, of course because fezzes are cool!)

Maybe I’m overstating this, but I have watched as very good, in fact, excellent authors of CSF have fallen by the wayside in the past two years because of poor sales in this genre. This is very puzzling if CSF is the fastest growing genre! I don’t have an answer for why sales are poor. Because, books we have reviewed on this blog tour, even those considered weak, have all been far better than most mainstream Christian fiction. Of course, I am biased since I am also an author of CSF.

I’ll touch more on this later, but I would ask you, the reader of this review, to go out today and purchase a copy of “The Telling”. Show the publishers that this genre is viable and alive and, dang it, necessary! If CSF goes away, we will all be awash in a sea of blushing Amish brides and morally ambiguous lawyers and serial killers. Not to say there is anything wrong with those sub-genres. But, CSF pushes the envelope; pushes the mind; stretches the heart; and challenges at the intersection of our faith in Christ and its friction with the real world of evil and postmodernism and secularism. We desperately NEED Christian Speculative Fiction. Go buy it! Now! Today! And, start with “The Telling”.

I enjoyed Mike Duran’s “The Resurrection” and in my presentations I use it as an example of an excellent utilization of apologetics in CSF. And so, I was eagerly awaiting his second, and unfortunately for now, last book from Realms. (See above diatribe.) I did not know what to expect and Mike Duran has caught me off guard. He shocked me and kept me guessing far into the book.

Let me say this. Mike Duran is not afraid to stretch the boundaries of theology and our interpretation of the Bible. His depiction of the forces of evil in this book are some of the most creative and imaginative I have seen in a while. And, his interpretation is believable and did not offend me in anyway. But, I did not read this book to underscore Biblical inerrancy. I read this book to be challenged and to be entertained and it delivered on both counts.

And, I believe it is the job of those of us who write CSF to do just that. Challenge the reader. What do you believe as a Christian? Why do you believe it? Let me show you a world in which we push those boundaries. Did I make you uncomfortable? Good! Now, figure out why? Test your own belief system and see if it can withstand similar scrutiny.

I will not go into too many details on day one but I will say that I enjoyed “The Telling”. It creeped me out, for want of a better phrase. And, it presented the horrendous nature of Lucifer’s minions in a way I will not soon forget. And, that is as it should be! We should not forget that evil is alive and well and living AMONG us. Perhaps even in our nursing homes and assisted living facilities!

Here is how it begins. Zeph Walker has a gift. He calls it “the telling”. During his childhood, this gift was miraculous and was soon abused by his parent for the sake of fame and money. Then, something horrible happened to Zach and he turned his back on his gift. It is now years later and he is living in the small town of Endurance. It is a quiet, lazy town on the edge of Death Valley. But, appearances are deceiving and the first event that sends Zach back into the battle with evil is the discovery of a dead body remarkably identical to him in almost every way. What is going on?

Soon, we meet Tamra and her grandmother, Annie. Annie lives in Marvale Manor, an assisted living facility. Annie is convinced that something is very wrong with her friends and neighbors. They are changing. And, she is not referring to the usual changes of aging. These changes are far more sinister. Are Annie’s suspicions warranted or is she merely falling prey to the paranoia of senility?

Tomorrow, I will do deeper into the numerous characters Mike Duran has developed for this story and the plot. On day three, I will discuss his “theology”, if you will and his unique take on the denizens of hell!

But, in the meantime, go buy some Christian Speculative Fiction! Today! Now! What are you waiting for? Here is Mike Duran’s link:

Book link –   http://www.amazon.com/Telling-Mike-Duran/dp/1616386940/ (or some other link of your choice)

Author Blog – http://www.mikeduran.com/
Author Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/cerebralgrump
Participants’ links 

http://tdtwr.wordpress.com“> Jim Armstrong</a>
http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/“> Noah Arsenault</a>
http://www.AdventuresInFiction.blogspot.com/“> Keanan Brand</a>
http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com/“> Beckie Burnham</a>
http://kittycrochettwo.blogspot.com“> Brenda Castro</a>
http://jeffchapmanwriter.blogspot.com/“> Jeff Chapman</a>
http://www.theiemommy.com/“> Christine</a>
http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com/“> Theresa Dunlap</a>
http://vicsmediaroom.wordpress.com/“> Victor Gentile</a>
http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com/“> Nikole Hahn</a>
http://www.spoiledfortheordinary.blogspot.com/“> Jason Joyner</a>
http://www.molcotw.blogspot.com/“> Julie</a>
http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/“> Carol Keen</a>
http://emileightherebuilder.blogspot.com/“> Emileigh Latham</a>
http://www.bloomingwithbooks.blogspot.com/“> Meagan @ Blooming with Books</a>
http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/“> Rebecca LuElla Miller</a>
http://annamittower.blogspot.com//“> Anna Mittower</a>
http://reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/“> Kathleen Smith</a>
http://www.mindsinger.com/“> Donna Swanson</a>
http://jessicathomasink.com/blog/“> Jessica Thomas</a>
http://christiansf.blogspot.com/“> Steve Trower</a>
http://www.fantasyandfaith.com“> Dona Watson</a>
http://www.shanewerlinger.com/“> Shane Werlinger</a>
http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/blog/“> Phyllis Wheeler</a>

Just a Reminder: I am giving away a limited number of FREE copies of my first book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”. Just fill out the form below and I promise I will not flood you with email! All I ask is that if you like the book, purchase a copy of the second book in my series, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” releasing on October 16, 2012.

About Bruce Hennigan

Published novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.

Posted on September 23, 2012, in Steel Chronicles. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. You are so right, Bruce. Books like this should be written and need to be written. It fills the void for those that need more than just a good sweet Christian romance. I want edgy & scary as well as books that make me think!

    Loved your book btw and am looking forward to the next 🙂


  2. Bruce,

    Well said. I keep your blog in my Google Reader and read your posts often. This is my first year in ACFW, and I was blessed to attend the National Conference a few weeks ago. I learned many things that will help me in my writing craft; however, over all, the message there was discouraging for those writing speculative fiction or YA. Here’s my take (strictly my own opinions):
    1) The embattled state of publishing has caused Christian fiction publishers to “hunker down” in their comfort zones of tried-and-true Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction, and yes, Amish brides. I was happy to note that Suspense authors were enjoying some success.
    2) YA, the supernova of all fiction at the current time, was sitting in the back pew at ACFW. In fact, I know an author who has two YA books ready to roll, but her agent is begging her for a third book for the secular market because there’s so little room for Contemporary YA in the Christian marketplace. That’s not the agent’s fault; that’s the state of the business.
    3) Speculative Fiction was the red-headed stepchild at the conference, that is to say the speculative fiction writers weren’t like the others, and frankly, the publishers represented there (with one or two exceptions) didn’t know how to speak our language or understand our strange compulsion to engage a different audience.

    Michael Hyatt, the keynote speaker at the conference, said something that stuck in my mind about authors banding together, like United Artists was formed by film makers, to get their work published. We all want to be published authors, and I am far from believing there’s no market for Christian Speculative Fiction, especially for Young Adults who are my intended audience. Perhaps Mr. Hyatt has the right idea.

    I’m happy for those Christian fiction writers who have found an audience; however, in a world that’s starving for God, Christians can’t continue to write and publish fiction only for a tiny market that consists primarily of white, conservative, over-55 women who shop in Christian bookstores. Rather, we must write for all the world, particularly for those who will never cross the threshold of a Christian bookstore.

    Sorry this went so long; you touched a nerve. I’m praying for the success of your book and for Christian authors everywhere.


    • Thank you for your comments. I didn’t make to ACFW because I went to Hutchmoot and that is where God wanted me to be. But, you are exactly right. I wish those of us who write CSF and who read CSF could band together and have sort of a Comic-Con type meeting. That would certainly garner the attention of the publishers.

      Imagine if we met once a year and had a convention with speakers like Tosca Lee and Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker to draw attention. We could even have “cosplaying” some of the wild characters that inhabit our books. And, we could bring in the outer fringe of Christian authors and graphic artists with their “comic books” and graphic novels and art.

      It would be small at first, but it would certainly gather attention.

      But, how would we do such a thing?

      Who has the time, and more importantly, the money?

      Something to think and pray about.

      Bruce Hennigan

      Bruce Hennigan http://www.brucehennigan.com

      “There is POWER in the blood!”

      The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon Available October 16, 2012


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