Uncle: We are calling in a couple of experts from outside our series to discuss Sue Dent's Never Ceese. Ladies first, or order of birth? Oh, let's begin with Heather Blair, an aethereal serving as one of the Sons of God, as featured in the Changelings series. With her is Martin--I didn't catch the last name?
Martin: People don't, for some reason.
Uncle: Anyway, Martin is a Herald; his origin story is "Credo," from Light at the Edge of Darkness. He confronts and destroys demonic strongholds, including the occasional werewolf or vampire.
Martin: However, Ceese and Richard are not the kind of creatures I have dealt with. In the short story "Death Trap," I did visit a vampiric man in hopes of turning him to God, but he was an anomaly. Most are like the creatures in "Sheep Among Wolves": demons animating bodies. And most werewolves are like those in the same story, preferring the power of their curse over true freedom. But freedom is available for any who are willing to submit to God.
Heather: That's been my experience too. Although we usually leave such matters to Heralds, since the demons are almost always former daimones--minor angels under our authority--we sometimes deal with them ourselves.
Uncle: That leads to my question, then. What is missing in Never Ceese?
Martin: By the lady's leave, I would venture my opinion first. There is a curse without anything to empower it. Would you agree, Miss Blair?
Heather: "Heather" is fine, sir. Yes, the curses aren't curses--at least as they are described.
Uncle: That is what I wondered about. Why aren't they curses? What is missing?
Heather: A curse is an attempt to change reality--to bind it in some fashion, usually against God's design, unless it is simply an appeal to Justice, as in Jotham's case in Judges. As such, it requires a binding force. In the case of something that warps the image of God as both lycanthropy and vampirism do, that will be a demonic force--and a very powerful one.
Martin: And yet there is no demon in Never Ceese. The cursed people are estranged from God, and that is typical, but a spiritual problem requires a spiritual solution, and that doesn't seem to happen here.
Uncle: Not even with prayer?
Martin: Prayer is important, but our Lord believes in work. Usually a habit of years shall not be conquered in a moment. Besides, if there is a demonic component, demons are intelligent, so a minor circumlocution such as "not unholy" for "holy" wouldn't fool it for a moment. No, this is treated more like a physical law than a demonic manifestation; yet it must be the latter, not the former.
Heather: There's also the matter of who prays. Modern Christians, especially in the West, assume that everyone has the same authority in prayer. There's some truth to that, but not everyone has every gift. As a Herald, Martin has authority to cast demons into the Abyss at will. As a Guardian, my authority is similar. But that doesn't mean just anyone can do it--at least not so swiftly. A demon powerful enough to bring about the curse--actually two demons--would not go quietly, in my experience, or at least not without the intervention of an Apostle, a Herald, or a Guardian. And even our Lord has some noisy exorcisms.
Uncle: Final comments, then. Did you enjoy Never Ceese, and would you read the sequel, Forever Richard, due out later this year?
Heather: I prefer older fiction.
Martin: As part of my call, I don't read fiction much. Bunyan is good, though, except for his reflexive anti-Catholicism.
Rod/Titan: It was pretty good for the most part. I'm a bit curious how the ending is explained in the second book.
Allen/Tachyon: I mostly liked the book, but it was like the ending set up for another book but also closed the door on it. Besides, if Rod reads the second book, I'll hear all about it anyway.
Clarice/Goodcheer: If Mom and Dad wouldn't let me read the first one, they sure won't let me read the second one.
Tom/Darklight: I don't see how the thing Rod got bleeped over last time can be resolved properly. I'd kind of like to see Heather or Martin go after the bad guys in the second story, but that won't happen.
Charlie/Micromegas: Sue Dent is a great writer, and I hope the next story will be even better. I wish she'd pay more attention to God: he's always the center, so if we get him right, everything else comes into focus.
Genie: Like Martin, I don't read much fiction, though I am looking forward to finishing the Chronicles of Narnia. And I'm working on the Ultimate Suits for the League. I know it's overkill, but I'm thinking of implementing complete quantum encryption for the systems. Even a demon couldn't figure that out.
Uncle: I wouldn't be too sure. I'll look at the next book. If it's any good, I may simply buy the Writer's Café Press; it would be a reasonable investment in Christian literature.
Rod/Titan: Will you change the name to the Troika's Café Press?
Uncle: There is no Troika, Titan.
Other participating blogs:
The Christian Fiction Review Blog
A Frank Review
Melissa Meeks @ Bibliophile's Retreat
Geralyn Beauchamp @ The Time Mistress
Cathi Hassan @ Cathi's Chatter
Caprice Hokstad @ Queen of Convolution
1 year ago