When God and the Devil make a bet, one man’s soul—and the fate of the world—are caught in the middle in this debut Christian thriller.
Former carpenter James Ryan has a life as close to idyllic as any typical American retiree: a nice house, a wonderful wife, a successful son, a part-time job to keep himself busy and contented. But this peaceful existence shatters one morning when a group of intruders break into James’ house, locking him out while his wife, Amanda, is still asleep inside. The outcome shatters James, but his misfortune doesn’t end there. God and the Devil have taken notice of him, and claiming that the modern world has no place for God, who has lately taken the form of an old woman named Verna, the Devil, taking the form of slick bar owner Ethan, challenges God to once again put a believer through a Joblike test of faith. If the Devil wins, he will have the power to rule over Earth. As the unlucky target James sees his life fall apart around him, Ethan opens a combination bar and arcade to lure the small town’s vulnerable teenagers into his orbit and put them to use in his crusade of evil, which ultimately results in an all-out war between the teens and adults of the town. Debut author Parisi crafts a plot reminiscent of the film Dogma, in which demons are wise to the desires and temptations of the modern world, God disguises herself in unexpected ways, and good people are shown both the flaws and strengths of humanity. The novel is more fast-paced thrill ride than philosophical discussion, which prevents it from becoming preachy and keeps the reader hooked, although Parisi’s odd turns of phrase—“This was indeed unusual, and Terri let out a gasp from being startled”—often distract, and the story itself will be predictable to anyone familiar with the tale of Job.
A pleasant yet conventional novel that explores the nature of faith and good and evil.