EASTERLAND by Patrick Henry Prentice


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A novel from debut author Prentice about two reluctant Christ-like figures and their collision in the desert.

Catholic scientist Dr. Bishop has his hands in a strange experiment. Under the impression he has been instructed to aid in the second coming of Christ, Bishop devises a way to impregnate two women with what he believes to be the genetic substance of God. Utilizing a coin-flipping technique as a means to interpret God’s will, Bishop helps bring two very different men into the world: Paul, the son of a young immigrant who believes she has seen an angel, shows great promise at a young age but very little in the way of motivation later in life; and Peter, the son of a chain-smoking simpleton who would only believe in an angel if she saw it on TV. Peter is so deficient in social skills that he’s sent away to a special boarding school. After adulthood finds Peter managing a run-down motel and Paul occasionally driving a taxi, in steps TV evangelist Billy Tarr. Billy is determined to realize the dream he’s had about an imminent apocalypse and the second coming of Christ. Following his dream’s instructions to set up a vast evangelist operation in the desert, the stage is set for the coming of a savior, but will it be Peter or Paul? Both bear a resemblance to the figure Billy saw in his dream, and yet, though they’re made of the same stuff, neither seems to come close to his biblical forbear. Alive with a quick pace and frightening peculiarities (Peter in particular proves to be an oddly terrifying creation), the story adroitly progresses through moments of suspense. Though Bishop’s experiment is founded on shaky science, such a shortcoming is soon forgotten in what proves to be an intriguing desert climax. Portraying modern evangelism without too much cynicism—Billy, for instance, is a flawed true believer, though not a caricature of one—the book ably handles the dicey conceit of a manufactured second coming without too much mockery or praise. The end result is a story both strange and oddly believable.

Rapidly paced and abutted with surprises, this sharp-eyed book shows just how strange the second coming might be.   

Pub Date: May 31st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1475988352
Page count: 346pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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