Mike Duran's second novel "The Telling" is an intelligent, well-written thriller about the consequences of ignoring one's calling in the midst of a struggle between good and evil. In some ways reminiscent of Robert McCammon's "Mystery Walk", Duran pens a much darker, more intriguing tale than his also well-written - but somewhat standard - debut novel, "The Resurrection."
In his second outing, Duran serves up plentiful portions of the "weird" and "fantastic" with ancient prophecies, body-snatching demons, quantum physics, parallel dimensions, a burned-out prophet, covert government military experiments and a possibly immortal holy warrior. All centered around a portal to hell, whose opening is imminent.
Once, Zephaniah Walker had a calling. The Voice of God spoke to him, giving him words of encouragement AND chastisement for the faithful. Hundreds flocked to his gatherings, making him a near-celebrity on the revival circuit. But eventually, the continual pressure of having to "perform" on a regular basis - whether he'd received God's Word or not - wears upon Zephaniah. He's only a child, after all. Driven by a zealous, perhaps slightly unbalanced mother determined to keep her gifted boy on his "chosen path".
But his mother dies. His father remarries, they leave the revival circuit behind...and at the hands of his abusive, psychotic step-mother, Zephaniah loses what little faith he has left, loses his way, also. He grows into Zeph Walker, a recluse living on the edge of the desert, near Death Valley, wanting nothing more than to be left alone and forgotten.
But ancient prophecies heed the wishes of no man, not even a burned-out former prophet. Forces far above Zeph still have plans for him, for a rising evil - leaking out from the bowels of Hell itself - is slowly infiltrating the citizens of Endurance. Dark magics, quantum physics, secret government projects collide in a foolhardy attempt to open a portal to Hell. According to an ancient prophecy, only one man can stop it - a man gifted with divine Speech - except there's one problem.
He's no longer talking. Or listening. And he just wants to be left alone. But he finds that impossible, especially when the evil threatening him wears his face.
Consummate blogger and writer Mike Duran has crafted a rich tale tale that mixes and matches its elements, a true genre-blend. There's horror, quantum physics, folk-lore, allegory, secret-government projects, demonic invasion - you name it, it's in there. Published in the Christian Bookseller Association, the story is faith-driven, but by no means agenda-driven, which makes all the difference in the world. It's above-all an excellent, enjoyable story about a broken man coming to terms with himself and his destiny. That, and an impending, demonic invasion from Hell, of course.
One of the most enjoyable characters, however, isn't necessarily the main character but Little Weaver. Indian mystic, angel, immortal guardian of the portal to hell - his character is never fully explained, which is a good thing. Excellent writers don't need to fill in all the blanks for us, not when a character has been so fleshed out and realized. Duran does this here, which only strengthens his tale.
Visit http://mikeduran.com/. Buy the ebook or paperback today.
Kevin Lucia is a Contributing Editor for Shroud Magazine, a blogger for The Midnight Diner, and a podcaster at Tales to Terrify. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He's
currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at
Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives
in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is
the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles, and he's currently working on his first novel. Visit him on the web at www.kevinlucia.com.