Today’s Bookbag book is one I read a looooong time ago–so long ago I bought the ebook so I could refresh my memory. The good news is I probably could have written this post without the refresher, which makes me feel good about my brain.
This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti takes place in a little town called Ashton, the kind of town where everyone knows everyone and they’re all up in each other’s business. But there’s more going on than nosy neighbors.
Crime was up, especially among the youth; simple common trust in one’s neighbor was diminishing; never had the town been so full of rumors, scandals, and malicious gossip. In the shadow of fear and suspicion, life here was gradually losing its joy and simplicity, and no one seemed to know why or how.
We catch the first glimpse of the mysterious forces surrounding the town when newspaper editor Marshall Hogan is meeting with Alf Brummel, the police chief, about an incident involving his reporter. What starts as a constructive confrontation quickly devolves into confusion.
Marshall…suddenly felt very weak, and he couldn’t figure out where his anger had gone so quickly. And what about his suspicions? He knew he didn’t buy everything this guy was saying–or did he? He knew Brummel had lied about not being at the carnival–or had he?
Or did I just hear him wrong? Or . . . where were we anyway? C’mon, Hogan, didn’t you get enough sleep last night?
Marshall looked into Brummel’s gazing gray eyes, and he felt a little numb, like he was dreaming.
Marshall ends up letting Brummel off the hook completely, and he doesn’t understand why. But we, the readers, get some insight the characters don’t.
Could anyone have seen him, the initial impression would not have been so much his reptilian, warted appearance as the way his figure seemed to absorb light and not return it, as if he were more a shadow than an object, a strange, animated hole in space. But this little spirit was invisible to the eyes of men, unseen and immaterial, drifting over the town, banking one way and then the other, guided by will and not wind, his swirling wings quivering in a grayish blur as they propelled him.
Using the points of view of different characters, Peretti shows how a town could be attacked on a spiritual plane, one where demons literally attach themselves to the heads of their targets and angels look for their chance to defend the people. I found the viewpoints of the supernatural being to be especially interesting, as they allow for effective dramatic irony.
There is a standalone sequel, and Marshall Hogan surprisingly shows up well into the story. It was such a cool moment that I remembered it years later and used that trick for my own standalone sequel, The Seventh Seed. It’s a fun Easter egg for readers of the first book.
Also in my Bookbag: The Testament
What T titles are in your Bookbag?