Is he really destined to exist in the catacombs of human life, unable to die and unwilling to live?
Another name in another city; Mason Standing feels he’s in the twilight of life…if his life would end. That’s why his torturous existence makes so much sense. An angel who fell with Satan didn’t deserve comfort and happiness. Mason exists; he no longer lives. Until he meets a pair of hazel eyes and his bitterness turns to desire for this artist who can steal his breath with just her touch. But his past won’t let him rest. The Devil would find him here too, in the sordid French Quarter of New Orleans just like he found Mason in every other place in the world for centuries. This eternal vendetta would not be satisfied until Mason would see another he cared for dying in his arms as she is sacrificed to the Devil as the purest of blood on earth.
Centuries ago, Mason had severed himself from the factions of Lucifer. It all started in Rome and the catacombs with his desire for the light, to fight once again for what he believed was his true station. He belonged to God, and back in his Graces was where he would be again, if it took an eternity to accomplish. Each night in New Orleans, Mason vividly dreams about his struggle to get back into the folds of God’s creatures. All the sin that surrounded him, the Nephilim offspring of the other Fallen, Babylon…it was all rushing back to him. He fell with the others, but he never knew why. Did God listen to even a demon as he had been called? Was redemption possible for him? Would he find forgiveness and be allowed to return to the light of Heaven, welcomed by Jesus? As he remembers this previous life, he begins to see the signs that the Devil had found him again.
It was time to take a stand – starting with the voodoo shop down the street. And this time, Oasis wouldn’t be lost, unless Mason was. Accompanied by another reformed fallen angel Mac, Mason has a renewed purpose – find his way back just as he had done before, but it had to be soon. Pursued by a relentless mob of Lucifer’s committed followers, he has no choice. He must conquer the Devil where he hides and put this chase into his own terms before it is too late. And when he awakes to find both Oasis and Mac missing from a room with signs of struggle, the fight between good and evil has begun.
I don’t know what preparation E.L. Pearson undertook for this novel, but it has definitely paid off. Whether it is just her natural talent and passion for writing and her research of this subject matter, or this coupled with any writing course, instruction or mentoring she has been trained in, the end result is a well-crafted and comprehensive novel. If any reader does not know that this is her debut novel, they would be convinced that Pearson is one very experienced and seasoned author.
I find this novel gives her a grand entrance into the world of fiction and especially in the emerging and ever-evolving genre of edgy, Christian speculative fiction. Pearson may have well found her niche in this genre. There is no shallowness on any level, everything seems to have been developed well; characters, plot, pace, atmosphere, even the edginess and speculative elements. It is one very well rounded work of creativity.
This could also have been due to Pearson’s writing. Just as any piece of writing, whether fiction or non fiction is enhanced by a well developed command of the English language, so is Paradise Lost by Pearson’s command of English. I found this added a richness and depth to the construction of this novel. Descriptions were specific and easily pictured in my mind, dialogue realistic and portrayed the emotion of the character and what they intended to say, the plot flowed smoothly and connected each scene. The author showed and not told what was happening. The overall effect was that I was engaged throughout this entire novel.
I really appreciate that Pearson has included an Introduction where she outlines why she has written about this subject matter. I encourage every reader to not skip over this Introduction, as the subject of fallen angels is controversial enough (the edgy element) without throwing into the mix the concept of them being redeemed (the speculative element) when the Bible states that they are imprisoned until judged by the Lord after He returns. Pearson explains her curiosity concerning these two topics especially the latter and I pray that it encourages the critical or sceptical reader to consider for a moment the ‘What if….?’ question that makes a topic speculative. I consider this to be a clever tactic as without this explanation, the critical or sceptical reader ends up having a field day being critical as to why this author had the audacity to go down this path in a Christian novel (I can here the word Heretic being shouted!) and then starts to deconstruct everything else the author has created. With this Introduction, Pearson gets her motivation and reasoning out there to quell any potential criticism and attack on her credibility as a debut author. It also prepares and enables any noncritical/nonskeptical reader, the one who is simply curious about this subject matter, to jump into the plot and be better entertained and given plenty of things to consider and investigate without any previous bias. On another level, it is just plain, good old information to hear from an author about a hot potato of an issue that they are writing about! This adds to their credibility as an author and their novel.
Pearson very skillfully creates two worlds that Mason and Marchosias inhabit, the past in Rome where they served satan under sufferance and humiliation, fell in love and found redemption, and the present where they are living in New Orleans having escaped satan’s dominion and but always on guard, ready to defend their freedom and find their true purpose as redeemed (as outlined in The Authorless Book, that is Mason’s prized possession). Both worlds are very different from each other, the former mentioned I found very dark and tense but balanced with the joy of finding love, being redeemed and trying to honour God while the latter mentioned is lighter, serious, but action packed as Pearson brings everything to a head and ties everything up very nicely and sets the stage for the next volume. How these two worlds transition between each other is effective as the world of Mason and Marchosias’ past is relived in Mason’s dreams and the reader is transported back and forth as directed by events in Mason’s present or by God speaking directly to Mason’s mind.
One thing that impressed me about this novel is that the characters are very real and well developed. I related to the mateship of Mason and Marchosias, these two compliment each other very well and I found I related on two levels, individually and as a mates/friends, inseparable. I am very fond of these two. Any reader will be drawn to the sincerity of Mason and his determination and passion to be reunited with God and his love for Him. And for Marchosias as well for his loyalty to Mason and devotion to God. They both remind me of a Paul and Barnabas type friendship from the Bible. Pearson has also created a strong character in Oasis, she is vulnerable, mysterious, independent and I get the impression that she may be in the next instalment as well. I became very fond of Sybl as the almost damsel in distress with Mason as the knight in shining armour to her rescue, while Marchosias seemed the big brother protector type to Lumenesca despite his love for her. I am pleased that Pearson has not dealt satan with the nice card but has depicted him as the lying, devious, conceited, hateful, defiant, malicious and spiteful (to name a few traits, I could go on!) entity that befits his prideful rebellion against God.
I loved how this author depicted the path to Redemption that is scattered throughout the majority of the plot. Including the use of a book, The Authorless Book, and found in the Library of satan’s lair (and by the sounds of it, not even he knew it was there), was a very clever tactic and served to pique the reader’s interest throughout as to how and when this would take place. I found it very satisfying and successful in that it needed to be a constant thread throughout the novel as this was its main theme.
Pearson needs to be applauded for the way she has depicted the spiritual warfare elements in this novel. They are depicted true to their biblical origins and what is says how they should be applied. It was good to see the principle of obedience where Mason obeyed God’s call in what to do and say when the final confrontation between himself and satan and that in the Name of Jesus, demons and satan must flee. Even though that was only a short piece of writing, it was one very exciting piece of narrative and stands out as to how a Christian can confidently, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, stand up and be victorious against demonic forces in our lives.
There is only one aspect that I struggled with. I am not one for romance as a genre even in Christian fiction, however if romance is a subplot to the genres that I read, then I do enjoy that. However, I cannot fathom or understand the romance that Pearson has included in Mason’s past once redeemed and his present. Before he was redeemed, I can understand him falling for Sybl and Marchosias for Lumenesca, as they would have been like the other fallen angels, where desire for human women was the norm, but as a redeemed angel, this is not part of their attitude and behaviour and not what is expected of them from God. This is also the case with Mason towards Oasis in the present, where he expressed his feelings towards her. It was desire for human women that was part of the angel’s sin in the first place so based on this, I don’t understand why including romance as a redeemed angel and one that is on a special mission from God was necessary. I am sure Pearson has a reason for this, I just don’t see it and find it confusing.
From what Pearson has achieved in this novel concerning fallen angels’ redemption, I can see that the remaining novels are ones that are going to be action packed as more of the edgy speculative elements of her original premise are explored and revealed. As with most readers, I am already impatient for the remainder of the story. How I wish that the whole series could be written first and then released about 6 months apart. Ted Dekker has done this successfully and I am sure a few other authors have as well. However, this is a very affirming compliment for any author to hear and one that I am sure forms part of the basis of their continuing to write.
I strongly recommend this edgy, Christian, speculative, well crafted novel by this aspiring new author and one that we need to support and encourage. I am glad I approached Pearson to review her work. It has well been worth it.
Peter Younghusband has been an avid reader from as early as he can remember. Since becoming a Christian in his early 20s, his passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on his blog. He loves reading new author’s novels or author’s who have not had many reviews or exposure and giving them much needed encouragement where appropriate.