A tightly controlled, entertaining religious adventure in which the downtrodden triumph with a little help from friends in...

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Prepare to Die

RESCUED

Kacsandi’s debut is a religious thriller centering on human trafficking and sex slavery.

How long will it take to feel like a normal human being? So wonders 20-something Rachel. When she was 13, Rachel was “sold as a slave for a shipment of cocaine and more.” Now 23, she’s a rescued survivor of the twisted cult that kidnapped her. She’s a journalism student, a budding novelist in regular therapy, and a member of the Sudbury Lane Church, whose staff has been helping her reintegrate into society. Rachel has embraced Christianity—“Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were now an actual part of Rachel,” we’re told, “and she a part of them”—and Kacsandi’s narrative does the same: it’s as thickly populated with supernatural beings as it is with normal humans. The “heavenlies” (cherubim, angels, a supernatural council called the Guardians, etc.) form a shadow cast of agents and counteragents, working the mystical side of human trafficking and sex slavery just as diligently as the mortal characters. And although Rachel is the main focus, Kacsandi skillfully expands the cast to include both pure-hearted heroes and refreshingly three-dimensional bad guys, including, in one of the book’s many well-done humorous turns, a murderous Mafioso named Blitz who meows to his victims right before he kills them. FBI agents and slave-camp commandants get equal time and attention, and the subject of human trafficking is presented in great and well-researched detail, even as the focus is largely on the larger battle of good vs. evil. Although Kacsandi’s insistent Christian callbacks (she assures readers at the outset that “if you were the only person on the earth, Jesus would still have died to set you free,” and a similarly fervent tone is struck throughout) might be a bit off-putting to non-Christian readers, the confident blending of gritty police procedural and C.S. Lewis–style Christian mythos will very much appeal to fans of Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker.

A tightly controlled, entertaining religious adventure in which the downtrodden triumph with a little help from friends in the highest of places.

Pub Date: June 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4908-7870-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2015

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

CILKA'S JOURNEY

In this follow-up to the widely read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a young concentration camp survivor is sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a Russian gulag.

The novel begins with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In the camp, 16-year-old Cecilia "Cilka" Klein—one of the Jewish prisoners introduced in Tattooist—was forced to become the mistress of two Nazi commandants. The Russians accuse her of collaborating—they also think she might be a spy—and send her to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia. There, another nightmarish scenario unfolds: Cilka, now 18, and the other women in her hut are routinely raped at night by criminal-class prisoners with special “privileges”; by day, the near-starving women haul coal from the local mines in frigid weather. The narrative is intercut with Cilka’s grim memories of Auschwitz as well as her happier recollections of life with her parents and sister before the war. At Vorkuta, her lot improves when she starts work as a nurse trainee at the camp hospital under the supervision of a sympathetic woman doctor who tries to protect her. Cilka also begins to feel the stirrings of romantic love for Alexandr, a fellow prisoner. Though believing she is cursed, Cilka shows great courage and fortitude throughout: Indeed, her ability to endure trauma—as well her heroism in ministering to the sick and wounded—almost defies credulity. The novel is ostensibly based on a true story, but a central element in the book—Cilka’s sexual relationship with the SS officers—has been challenged by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center and by the real Cilka’s stepson, who says it is false. As in Tattooist, the writing itself is workmanlike at best and often overwrought.

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-26570-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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