“Spirit Bridge,” James L Rubart

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Image courtesy of James L Rubart’s website

Spirit Bridge is the third and final episode in the Well Spring series. And wow, it sure finishes in a mighty way, so much so I’m very sad that it has now ended.

I’d suggest all readers read the first two in the series: Soul’s Gate and Memory’s Door, not just because they are fabulous novels but they provide a valuable introduction to this final episode.

This one starts where the last one ended, the Warriors Riding hoping to take some time out to rest and convalesce after the battle with Zennon and his demonic warlords. However, the Spirit has other ideas and it isn’t long before the battle is renewed and with tragic circumstances.

Two additional characters play pivotal roles. Simon, who we’ve met previously, and are never quite sure whose side he’s on. Rubart manages this ambiguity brilliantly. The second, Miyo, is in fact a new character and she plays an important leadership role in discerning the insidious plot of Zennon.

Brandon and Dana’s characters are well developed in this episode and I especially grew to like both of them. The romantic tension between them continues as an undercurrent but doesn’t distract the reader in developing empathy for them both.

What I particularly appreciated about this episode is how Rubart presents spiritual warfare in the context of the daily battle we all have in surrendering our desires and hopes to God. He explores it through Reece, Brandon and Dana demonstrating how each of them unknowingly allows the enemy to infiltrate through some form of self-glorification.

This culminates in a fantastic final battle scene that is magnificently described allowing the reader to visualize it effortlessly.

This is a wonderful series that so powerfully demonstrates spiritual warfare in a fictional context that is uplifting, challenging and thrilling in its suspensefulness.

I can’t recommend it enough and so look forward to reading Rubart’s next creation.

“Sedona Storm,” Barbara Scott

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Book cover courtesy of Landheart Press

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I understand it was originally published a decade or so ago and the authors have modernised it (even with an iphone mention!). A story of the unseen world that angels and demons inhabit interwoven with the natural world of man is as timeless as the Bible.

It’s suspenseful and contains some graphic scenes that are not for the faint of heart but it’s how the authors depict the two worlds intersecting (including many a collision) that has the reader spellbound. Prayer engages heaven by activating angelic assistance and this is wonderfully demonstrated in this novel.

We see the consequences of dabbling in the darkness, yes, it can destroy, kill and steal. But we also see grace, healing, forgiveness and salvation. Yes, this novel sure packs a lot in it.

I’m pleased the authors elected to re-launch after so many years as it’s messages are important for the world to hear.

“Memory’s Door,” Jim Rubart

memorys-door-james-l-rubart-134x210This is the sequel to Soul’s Gate in the 3-book Well Spring series. It continues the adventure of the four: Dana, Marcus, Brandon and Reece (The Warriors Riding) as they prepare themselves to tackle the malevolent “Wolf” who personifies the spirit of religion. The four all confront their own darkness that in some way or another is holding them from living in complete freedom in their walks with Jesus. This is a key theme of the series: we allow our past regrets to hold us back even when we have Jesus in our lives. Jesus however has come to set us free from our past. However, we can’t just runaway from them. We need to confront our darkness with Jesus and let Him bring healing.

We spend a lot of time in the “spirit” and/or in people’s souls. I’m reminded of CS Lewis’s “space trilogy” novels (not Narnia) where he takes us in to another realm. There the Warriors battle demons whilst also meeting friendly spirits and angels on their journeys.

There were times I felt Rubart was delaying the ultimate conflict as I thought there were one or two elements that were laboured over, however, he continued to surprise me with some riveting action and suspense. And the battle near the end is simply breathtaking.

Rubart’s wonderful storytelling takes the reader into the minds and souls of his characters. He is a masterful communicator and at all times he had me visually present within the scenes. As with Soul’s Gate, Rubart uses Scripture powerfully to weave within the story. It’s not preachy but essential as the Word of God enlightens, empowers and equips the Warriors. But we also see how it can be misused to lead others astray.

I love how this series is making me stretch further into Jesus, opening my eyes to what is holding me back in enjoying complete freedom and showing me how I can use prayer, the Word and faith to unshackle me. The importance of comrades in battle is highlighted. We cannot run this race alone especially when it comes to tackling the spirit world.

I can’t wait for the final instalment.

“Soul’s Gate”, Jim Rubart

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Photo courtesy of Thomas Nelson

Jim Rubart’s novels simply get better and better. This is top notch and I’d encourage every Christian to read it.

From the first page Jim’s writing took me on a spiritual journey that had me pressing into the Lord as I explored the ideas in the novel in my own prayer life. Jesus brings freedom, it’s a fundamental aspect of the gospel and Soul’s Gate explores this truth by introducing four characters who are still struggling with their own particular issues. They are called to firstly tackle their own captivity before being able to help others to do the same which I take will be the main thrust behind the second in the series, Memory’s Door.

However, the enemy doesn’t just sit back and allow us as individuals to surrender our brokenness to the Lord. Rubart demonstrates this by using the allegory of people entering another’s soul to help that person to both recognise their struggles and then helping free them. However, frequently the enemy will turn up in an attempt to thwart the crusaders efforts. In essence, I see this as how the Holy SPirit works in our lives. He enables us to identify the roadblocks to our freedom and provides us with the ammunition to blast them away. And once again, Satan and his cronies fight hard to stop the roadblocks from budging.

We can all help others in their individual battles by way of prayer which again is a big theme that runs through Soul’s Gate. Prayer is powerful and it does work to prevent the enemy in its efforts.

I enjoyed each of the four characters, all very different and believable. I look forward to their development in the next edition. The scenery both physically and supernaturally is fantastic making the novel a great joy to read. Rubart does a magnificent job visually taking the reader into each of the scenes.

I’ll be recommending this to everyone. It’s a must read and the best novel I’ve read in 2013.

Congratulations Jim on a novel that I hope will stand the test of time not unlike some of those of a certain hero of yours, Mr CS Lewis.

“Afloat”, Erin Healy

Afloat-e1360600179383Riveting storytelling that leaves much to ponder!

I love a novel that stays in my mind long after finishing it. This is one of those novels.

Healy powerfully blends natural disaster, murder and the supernatural to compose a fascinating multi-layered story. Her mastery of the writing craft and ability to create intriguing multi-dimensional characters make Afloat a compelling read.

Even though the action commenced immediately, it took me a while to absorb the complexity surrounding the disaster and the introduction of many characters. I enjoyed this detail even though there were times when I found it challenging to visualize the full extent of the scene unfolding.

But once the survivors are thrown together the novel really takes off. Vance Nolan is a marvelous hero. He’s flawed with a troubled past, but selflessly courageous. Zeke, the blind man of faith, and a father figure, has invested years of love and wisdom in Vance and their relationship is a beautiful illustration of the power of committed friendship.

Most of the characters are complex. We see their foibles, inhibitions, hopes and fears. Developer Tony Dean is an excellent antagonist. Greed, power, lust, we see it everyday, but perhaps not so well portrayed in a fictional character like Tony Dean.

The reason this novel still lingers in my mind and why it is so special is there is so much to take away from it. Every reader will be grabbed by something different to ponder. And that is its’ magic. Whether it’s redemption, bad things do happen to good people, or sometimes faith involves staying put and waiting it out, there is so much in this novel. And I haven’t even mentioned the angelic intruders.

Highly recommended: 4.5 out of 5.

If you missed my Q&A with Erin Healy from a  few weeks ago, you can read it here.