This month's Christian Fiction Blog Tour feature is The Hidden, by Kathryn Mackel. I've never been a big fan of spiritual warfare stories -- I have too low a heebie jeebie threshold -- but Mackel has done such a skillful job of weaving her story that I didn't once get an attack of the willies.
The story begins with psychiatrist Susan Stone receiving a call to return to Colorado to help her elderly father, who's been injured. Susan is still grieving the death of her son, and has been estranged from her father for years. But her sense of obligation, and maybe her well-developed instinct to "fix" things in people's lives, compel her to return to the family ranch she left 30 years before.
Once there, she finds herself in the midst of turmoil -- not only in her family, but also in the normally peaceful valley where she grew up. And then she discovers a young man chained in the darkness. Is he the victim of abuse? Or a serial killer haunting the countryside? He chooses to call himself Jacob, since he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be chained in a dark ravine.
As the mystery of who -- or what -- Jacob is deepens, Susan is forced to examine her own motives and perceptions and attitudes towards her family and Melissa, the young woman who had been involved with her late son.
There's a lot to like about this novel -- Mackel's style is smooth and vivid. The story moves along briskly, without seeming hurried. Her characters are distinct individuals and she does a good job of transitioning between points of view. The story works well on a deeper level, too, by illustrating how hard it is to see past our prejudices and how hard it is to break free from out pasts. There is a conversion or two in this story -- but they're earned. The spiritual elements flow from the characters and the story. The ending may have wrapped up just a bit too neatly, but it works, and the reader was still left with the understanding that transformation is a process and the characters still had some growing to do. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.
If you want to know more about Kathryn Mackel, who is a scriptwriter as well as a novel, visit her Web site.