Monday, January 31, 2011

The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell

The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell
Book 1 of the Coming Evil Trilogy
Copyright 2011 - Horror
292 pages, including a bonus short story

Holy Toledo. The Strange Man is like a train wreck -- horrifying but you can't look away. In the dying town of Greensboro, there have always been rumors about a bogeyman living in the North Woods. Parents tell stories of the bogeyman to get their children to behave. Some believe, some don't.

Dras (pronounced "DrAHz") Weldon is a twenty-something who is unemployed, drinks heavily and, in general, refuses to grow up. He collects action figures and sponges off his family. His only real friend is Rosalyn. She came from a disastrous, alcoholic home and has been labeled "trash" by pretty much everyone but the Weldon family, with whom she practically grew up. Rosalyn is patient to a fault, when it comes to Dras. Dras questions his faith aloud and is rebellious, but he really believes in God. He just doesn't want to think about it and he both acts and speaks as if he's not a believer.

One night, a storm moves into Greensboro -- a very odd storm that carries with it the sensation of evil. The bogeyman has arrived. He is, in fact, the devil and he brings along his legion of demons. Because the town has moved away from Christianity, they've allowed the devil to be freed from his prison in the North Woods. And, he means to wreak havoc, kill and ruin lives, wherever he can. Death comes quickly, once the so-called bogeyman arrives.

The devil-slash-bogeyman can appear handsome and suave but sometimes he shows his true form. Dras, as it turns out, is getting in the devil's way. The devil has his eye on Rosalyn but he can't harm Dras. And, Dras is not going to watch his friend get tortured or worse and do nothing about it. But, will he be able to save Rosalyn? There's only one thing Dras can do and it may mean sacrificing his own life.

Man . . . talk about creepy. This is one heck of a scary book. I cannot believe I read it at night and didn't have nightmares, but I just couldn't put it down so I finished The Strange Man in the middle of the night. You should see the dark circles under my eyes. I meant to snooze late but the cats decided to have a party on my head very early Monday morning, so I guess I'll just have to catch up on sleep. It was worth it.

What I loved about The Strange Man:

The Strange Man is riveting. From a Christian standpoint, I had a little trouble with the fact that a person could pray for help and still end up shredded (Ewww!) but in the end there's one person who actually succumbs not to the devil but to the evil of man. To be honest I just can't fault a book too much if it's that hard to put down. I loved the fact that The Strange Man is gripping, has a good solid theme about God as protector and that we choose whether or not to let evil into our lives, and I liked the characters -- although there were moments I wanted to reach in and shake someone. You know those scary movies where you're muttering, "No, no, don't open the window! Don't go outside!" or whatever. Yeah. It's like that.

Oops, forgot to mention:

Adding this to the post, a bit late. I think there's another theme, which is really important, and it's something to the effect of, "Watch out what you say and how you behave; the people around you learn from your actions and words." Dras actually leads people away from God.

What I disliked about The Strange Man:

Oops, I think I already mentioned that, above, the fact that someone got shredded even after praying. Well, that's about it.

The Strange Man is, I think, technically a Christian book because of the publisher and the God-driven theme. But, I left that out of my header because, you know . . . I have a real quibble with the fact that a lot of people will pass this book up (and a lot of other titles) merely because it's written from a Christian perspective. And, it's not like Hollywood hasn't done the devil-coming-to-get-everyone, complete with a hell-fire spouting, mildly hypocritical preacher and all that.

I just read True Grit last week (I'll review it, soon) and found myself thinking about the way Christianity in characters was common not that long ago but has become something to avoid in recent decades. In True Grit, Mattie's Christianity really jumps out at you, the way Mattie quotes the Bible and talks about being a good Presbyterian. It's simply a part of who she is, but it's something we don't see all that much anymore. I found myself wondering . . . Would that book be considered (if it were a new title, that is) by a mainstream publisher, these days? I don't know. I have a feeling the answer is "no," though.

In The Strange Man, the preacher is Jeff, the "prodigal" Dras's brother. He's not perfect; nobody is, although Jeff's wife comes closest. She's a peacemaker and a solid, kind woman. Many of the characters are not Christian. That's part of the point -- so many in the small, dying town have lost their faith that they've opened themselves up to evil. It's really just a typical good-versus-evil plotline and it deserves a wide readership because it's a rollicking good, shaking-in-your-boots kind of story. That is my humble opinion. Click here to read a free chapter of The Strange Man and view the trailer (which, honestly, I'm afraid to watch). Be sure to look at the author photograph, which was taken by his 4-year-old! Awesome.

Cover thoughts: Cool. Creepy. Perfect. Love the colors.

In other news:

I've been offline, apart from brief hops to the blog to approve comments, via the iPad, because my computer has been covered by a tarp while Huzzybuns repaired the damaged wall in my office and sanded in preparation for painting. So . . . not sure when he's going to get around to painting the walls but if I disappear abruptly for a couple of days, never fear. It probably just means I've been banned from the room. I get in his way, you see. I'll try to catch up on visiting people when he's not around and I'm not busy shooing the cat away from live electrical cords. That animal. Sheesh. Izzy, that is. She's a handful.

This weekend, I spent a lot of time reading, reading, reading. I picked up Haunting Jasmine, the story of a woman fresh from a divorce, who goes to take care of her aunt Ruma's bookstore while Auntie Ruma makes an emergency trip to India. Ruma doesn't bother telling Jasmine that the store is haunted. It was a case of perfect book for the time and I raced through it, loving every minute. I'll review the book, soon.

After reading Haunting Jasmine, I spent a day catching up on my Bible study, which involves a humongous amount of homework (I missed the first week, thanks to a stomach virus). And, then I picked up The Strange Man and there went a good night's sleep.

I've got to get off the computer because Kiddo wants me to quit tapping so he can sleep, but I'll try to post a pic of Izzy playing with her rubber ducky in the next post. Betcha can't wait.

Tuesday Morning addendum:

I've awakened to weather that is threatening to turn severe (tornadoes and thunderstorms) and a headache, so blog-hopping and my next review will likely be delayed a bit longer while I hide in my room to read and sleep. I'm really starting to miss you guys. I'll at least approve comments if I don't have to unplug everything.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than
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  1. Cool! The description of this one kind of reminds me of Frank Peretti. I've read lots of his Christian "horror" and they were really riveting.

  2. Andi,

    You know, I've never read Frank Peretti. Thanks for mentioning him. I can only handle this kind of book once or twice in a year, but I thought it was great. Sometimes you just need to read something that makes you want to leave the lights on.

  3. Great post! I so want to read True Grit. Alas, the book store didn't have it when I was all ready to purchase it.

  4. Care Dahling,

    I'm sending you my copy of True Grit, remember? I'll dash over to your blog to remind you. We were trading -- Whipple for Grit. LOL

  5. Well, this one just went on my list. How could it not? Thanks for a great review.


  6. CJ,

    I do believe this is your kind of book. :)

  7. Anonymous11:16 AM

    I agree with the recommendation of Frank Peretti's books. A lot of spiritual warfare there. They were my first experience with that type of book. You know, Stephen King's book, THE STAND, includes a lot of spirtual warfare as well, sometimes couched as other things. :-)

    I'm interested in this book and will see if I can find it. Thanks for highlighting it!! Hope your headache gets better.

  8. This sounds interesting! Thanks for your email, btw. I got it on my phone yesterday and it was too long for me to read on it. lol I will read the rest tonight and reply!

  9. Kay,

    Cool. I love it when someone seconds an author recommendation. I haven't read THE STAND. I know, where have I been? I'll get to it. Maybe. LOL

    Thanks, my headache is gone but I literally slept all afternoon. I'm kind of disappointed because I wanted to finish at least one of the books in my sidebar. Ah, well. I must have needed the sleep.


    It's awesome. I think Chris would love it, actually. Oh, sorry about the email. That Nancy is such an airbag. I have an old-fashioned phone so the length didn't occur to me.

  10. Well dang, it sounds creepy but good. I don't particularly care if a book is written from a Christian, Pagan or Whatever viewpoint, as long as it's not bashing me over the head with YOU MUST BELIEVE THIS WAY.

    As for the shredding, look at Job.

  11. Carrie,

    I thought it was really good and it's got some obvious Christian themes but it's not hammer-you-over-the-head theology. I feel the same. I'll read anything, as long as it's a good story, so I don't quite understand the avoidance of Christian books.

    LOL Yeah. That's another thing I think is funny -- avoid the Bible and you are missing some of the best writing, ever. There's all sorts of kinkiness, murder, subterfuge, heroic battles, romance . . . you name it, it's in there. Poor Job. I always felt sorry for Job.

  12. This really does sound creepy!

    We got all the storms here, then yesterday, the freezing weather. The high yesterday hovered around 28--in Louisiana! The low this morning was 16 with a wicked wind chill. Brrrr. Edgar rushed out last night when the wind blew the door open (I hadn't shut it securely), and I spent 30 minutes hunting the rascal!

  13. Jenclair,

    It's extra creepy with needle-sharp teeth on top. Eeks.

    Oh, no! Sorry you had to go hunt Edgar, but the fact that you spent 30 minutes must mean there was an end to it and you brought him inside, yes? My cats are indoors-only, but they still occasionally try to sneak out. The smells of the outdoors are sooo tempting.

  14. Anonymous4:42 PM

    I will definitely check this book out! It sounds right up my alley. I always love a good scare. Thanks for the review!

  15. Bookmomma,

    LOL I don't love a good scare but I got one! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I'm still stunned that it didn't give me nightmares.


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