Saturday, March 10, 2007

Books -- We need a young priest and an old priest!

My sister mailed me a box of books (yay!) and I received it last Friday. Part of why I haven't been posting much is that I've been spending all my spare time reading.

Here are my thoughts on the books:
The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. This is a non-fiction historical work that explores the period of turmoil in England between the death of Henry VIII and the accession of Elizabeth I. It is primarily about Edward ?? (I forget his number), Lady Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth and the relationships between them. In fact, in some ways it is as much about the powers behind the throne, as much of this period of time has different factions vying for power in England, each trying to promote their own candidate to the crown, or (in the case of Edward) trying to seize the true power which lay in the protectorate. I found it to be very interesting, although I'd agree with some of the reviews on Amazon that it really doesn't explore the personal relationships between the individuals, simply because the movement in history lay with the various factions and not truly with the individuals.

It is also an exceptionally fair presentation -- both Catholics and Protestants are presented with their warts and glory, and it doesn't seem to be biased toward either side. I'd like to get a copy of Weir's earlier work called The Six Wives of Henry VIII to see what she says about them.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. This was really good. The cover calls it a "Modern Masterpiece of Romantic Suspense." I don't want to say too much about it, because I don't want to give the story away. It is about a girl (maybe late teens, early twenties??) who meets and marries a rich widower. And then stuff happens, but you'll have to read it to find out. I do think, however, that there should be a law against packaging good literature like it is a cheap romance novel. I'm pretty sure Bob would hate it, it IS a girl book.

When the Day of Evil Comes and The Soul Hunter by Melanie Wells. These are books about spiritual warfare, and what I believe would be called "demonic obsession" by a Catholic in-the-know. The first book in particular seemed very good, and different to anything else I'd read. They have a Christian author, but don't have a pushy "you need to have a born-again experience" feel to them. I was only disappointed in two things in the first book -- first, the ending seemed a bit flat, and it didn't provide any explanation for the involvement of the main character's dead mother nor the main demon guy. It just solved what had originally seemed to be a secondary plot line, and then the book ended. Secondly, I felt like it was missing something since it wasn't Catholic. The narrator/main character even thinks at some point, "At this point in the movies, we would call a priest, but I don't know any." Her answer is to go consult a pastor, who provided her with some advice about what she could do herself to protect herself from the demon, but what she really needed was some priestly in persona Christi demon fighting. Which besides being safer than handling things yourself, is just cooler in a story.

The second book, however, disappointed me. It was still an enjoyable read and I finished it quickly, but it felt like part of a detective/who-done-it series. Which is what the first book has been turned into, I guess. Apparently this demon just shows up, and inadvertently leads Dylan (the main character) into solving a murder mystery, which surprise, surprise, also happened in the first book. I have a feeling that this will also be what happens in the third book, which is supposed to be the last. This definitely had a "continuing demon saga" feel to it, though, so I think the author could continue this series indefinitely, not that she ought to! The demon no longer seems like the main conflict in the story, but just a convenient plot device to aid in solving the mystery and to make the reader squirm.

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