Residents near Yellowstone National Park must contend with Satan worshippers and an insane man hunting for his sister in Perkinson’s (Mystic, 2017, etc.) thriller sequel.
In her new job as a seasonal ranger for the area around the Old Faithful geyser, Joan Worthing has the chance to prove herself. She’s looking forward to no longer being a victim after years of sexual abuse by her schizophrenic brother, Teddy. Unfortunately, the latter escapes a mental institution and makes his way to Yellowstone to find Joan. His repugnant goal is to conceive a child with her; it’s part of his delusion involving a prophecy of saving the world. Teddy’s increasingly erratic behavior poses a danger to other people, as well, including local psychologist Dr. Rand Holland and preacher Cory Beard, who later becomes Joan’s love interest. Meanwhile, a satanic coven in Denver recruits 16-year-old Lela Lander, one of Rand’s patients, and pursues a sinister plan that ultimately involves Joan. The coven’s leader is apparently communing with demons, while Cory feels that he’s losing his connection to God and Rand is hearing what he believes is God’s voice. As the time of the coven’s blood ritual looms, a confrontation between good and evil seems inevitable. Despite the fact that multiple people hear demonic or divine voices, Perkinson keeps the story grounded, never verifying the existence of any spiritual presences. Instead, he tells a tale in which mere humans are the primary threat and the ones who must protect themselves and others. The simple, straightforward prose details a wide range of characters, including members of the coven and of Cory’s congregation, but Perkinson also maintains the story’s forward momentum. There are some effective plot turns along the way, including a few surprising deaths. One drawback, though, is Joan’s waning importance to the story; she begins the novel admirably determined to combat a male-dominated world that wants women to fail, but later, she’s a mere supporting character, her personal fight overshadowed by Cory’s questions of faith.
A well-paced, religion-infused story that’s hampered by the demotion of a great character.