In Teller’s debut supernatural thriller, a satanic cult attempts to bring about Satan’s prophesied apocalypse, while spiritual combatants try to stop their diabolical plan.
According to Pope Leo XIII’s vision in the 19th century, Satan, in a conversation with the Lord, claimed he could destroy the Roman Catholic Church in 100 years. Many believe the timeline began in 1917, when the Holy Virgin Mary appeared to 11-year-old Lúcia Dos Santos in Fátima, Portugal. The Virgin Mary shows the young girl and her cousins images of future worldwide destruction and asks that they keep it a secret (for now) that Satan has brought evil to the Church and the apocalyptic Three Days of Darkness are imminent. As the years pass, occultists collectively known as the Society perform human sacrifices and use an orphanage as a “staging area for demonic practices.” The Society wants to summon powerful demons to create chaos throughout the world. Fortunately, the Blue Army of Mary and Christ wages war against the devilish group. As the menacing Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, end date approaches, people on both sides discover their roles in the fight, including teenager Katherine Moore in 1979 and Grace Harding in 2017. Some, however, are part of a final ritual and destined to be sacrificed to release the Prince of Darkness and his minions. Teller’s story is dense with historical details, including the real-life Dos Santos, who did claim to have seen the Virgin Mary. There’s a plethora of fictional characters, as well, with many revealed later to have shocking connections (and even alliances) with others. Among the numerous deaths and ever shifting perspectives, the book essentially lacks a primary protagonist. Extending the novel to better develop the characters might have sharpened the story’s focus by generating more sympathy for the various players. That said, the rich religious backdrop gives this thriller some heft. Also, Teller sculpts deliriously grim passages along the way: “White, frothy, sputum oozed from her mouth simultaneously while her tongue swirled around in a crazed snake-like pattern.”
Disappointingly short but thoroughly gripping and often unpredictable.