Relevant Fiction Reviews: Dealing with Demons

Relevant Fiction Reviews

The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that evil is real. It’s a tangible force – one commonly overlooked in our “enlightened” post-modern era. That’s why I was struck by these four novels: one the sequel to a historical romance, if we can call the 1980s “historical” now, and the others a dystopian trilogy.


The Gifting (Gifting #1)The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert

The Gifting has a little bit of everything – mystery, suspense, romance, action, and a full-out battle between good and evil. In fact, what struck me most about the series, beginning with The Gifting, was the acknowledgement of evil. As a demonic entity tells Tessa, “You see, people have a hard time fighting against something they don’t believe. Their denial makes our job easier.”

The dystopian setting allows the reality of good and evil to penetrate without inducing nightmares. The Gifting hits its mark in making the reader consider unseen realities without fear-mongering.

The sense of immediacy, urgency, and ever-present danger are enhanced by the first person present point-of-view. Seen through Tessa’s eyes, The Gifting will keep you guessing about both her sanity and the loyalty of charismatic, good-looking Luka.

K.E. Ganshert effectively taps into real fears: both those endemic to high school life (being different, ignored by the opposite sex, and misunderstood by parents) and larger, lifelong fears (evil, death, isolation, being unloved, societal collapse). She does an outstanding job of showing the dangers of dabbling in the occult and of deeming certain persons unworthy of life. These threats are such an organic part of the story that the truth shines through without any author interjections or hokey, proselytizing dialogue. Very well done.

The teen romance with all its starts and stops is realistic and clean. Short chapters keep you moving ahead, leading me TWICE to do something I’d never done – click “buy” on my Kindle within seconds of finishing a book because I just couldn’t wait to read more.


The Awakening (Gifting #2)The Awakening by K.E. Ganshert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Awakening, the second book in the series, had the word “brilliant” flittering on the periphery of my thoughts as I plowed through it.

The book takes place largely in a dream world as Tess and Luka learn to manipulate the physical and spiritual realms. Safe together in “the Hub” as they develop their powers, they are, ironically, pulled apart.

Luka is tormented by dreams portending Tess’s death. Tess is alternatively driven to do more to save her grandmother and live up to her potential, and to cower in fear and reject her gift.

Cap offers Tess this wisdom: “Your gifting isn’t something you earned or deserved. It was given to you. It’s a gift, the size and value of which says more about the giver than the recipient. By definition, it doesn’t come from you at all.”

This is a stellar example of how K.E. Ganshert uses her dystopian world to subtly convey beautiful truths about life and faith.

Passages throughout the book hint at the fallen angels, the power of free will, the eugenics movement, and the evil of mass exterminations perpetrated by brutal regimes throughout history.

Free will is a recurrent theme, and what Tess perceives as Luka’s lack of it causes her to continually doubt his affection for her. How can he truly love her if he is drawn to her, compelled to defend and protect her from birth, propelled by an innate force not of his own choosing? (A question beautifully resolved in the final book.)

Not only is this book full of wisdom and depth, but girls will swoon for protective, handsome, respectful, and gentlemanly Luka.


The Gathering (Gifting #3)The Gathering by K.E. Ganshert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may have electronically highlighted more passages of The Gathering than any other book I’ve read. Filled with wisdom on fear, sacrificial love, accepting unconditional love, and evil masquerading as good, there is plenty in this novel that demands a re-read.

The final installment of the series is filled with Tess and Luka’s ups and downs, secrets and insecurities, and a frustrating quasi-love triangle. Tess cannot truly love Luka until she stops putting conditions on his love and gives him the freedom to sacrifice himself for her.

I wondered at several points whether K.E. Ganshert could pull off a satisfying ending, but she did. Linked to Tessa by love, Luka is the resurrected Christ-figure that brings new life, new love, and new tomorrows.

I’m eager to share this book with my daughters when they are teens. It is a series that above all entertains, but also can generate important discussions on good and evil, love and sacrifice, and the value of every human life.


One Night With a Rock Star: part deuxOne Night With a Rock Star: part deux by Chana Keefer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved One Night With A Rock Star so much I re-read it, something I rarely do. I eagerly looked forward to the sequel, Part Deux.

What struck me most about this book was the author’s willingness to take on evil, essentially freeing her hero of a demonic obsession. Not ordinary fare for a fairytale romance.

Kudos to Chana Keefer for her sobering and gripping depiction of the subtle manifestation of evil in our lives. My only qualm was what amounted to a lay exorcism of sorts, something I’d have preferred to seen addressed by a trained priest exorcist.

Part Deux reads more like a memoir than a romance in its storytelling. The upside is that the reader is further drawn into the lives of Esther and Sky, whose newlywed love is endearing. It’s a joy to witness (“offscreen”) the consummation and continuation of their married union and loving intimacy. It is real and sensual without become tawdry or in any way pornographic.

The downside to this type of storytelling is a rambling plot, which at times did not seem cohesive. It may be that I’ve become a more critical reader since I read One Night With A Rock Star, but this book felt less structured, lacking in foreshadowing, and therefore less satisfying. Again, the draw here is the characters.

There were some good subplots involving sex trafficking and the “adult” industry. The struggles of marriage, difficulties of superstardom, pregnancy loss, and incorporating faith into life with integrity and without compromise are all addressed. They are handled well, but I wondered at times if the author tried to tackle too much.

All in all, an enjoyable continuation of Esther and Sky’s love story.

View all my reviews


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