You will laugh, cry, and cling to the edge of your seat as you follow this thrilling, international adventure, and epic battle between the ultimate good set against the ultimate evil.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Book Title: A Brush with the Beast
Series: Untitled #1
Author: Richard Sones
Publisher: Richard Sones
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Page Count: 292
Genre: Christian Fiction, Fantasy
Cover Artist: —
My Rating: ★★★½
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
What an introduction to a new end-times series. I mean that in a good, yet horrified way (if that’s even possible to do.) This plot orchestrates a complex, and plausible timeline for Biblical end-times events and how they take place. For these characters, the book of Revelations is no myth, it’s reality.
It’s truly difficult to find a book along these lines as “likable.” I don’t think I’d ever say to someone that this is my favorite book, just because of the nature of its contents. It’s horrifying to think of these things happening. If you know anything about how Revelations dictates the second-coming of Jesus Christ, then they would know that the only good to come of it will be the fact that Jesus is returning for his followers. Everything else, this world, people, everything as we known it, will completely diminish. (It made me think how insignificant so many of the “must do’s” and “must haves” in life are.)
Despite its frightful story-line, this book also has a lot of hope to offer its characters and readers alike. For those who know and follow God, the terror that occurs with these events isn’t so influential and doesn’t sway them from following their beliefs.
“It is absolutely true that God promised to take care of use. But that doesn’t mean that all of his children are wealthy and comfortable all the time. He takes care of us beyond the way the world is able. He takes care of us in a way that nothing else in the world can. Through him we have hope when everything looks hopeless. Through him we have peace when our world is crumbling around us. He drives fear out of our hearts. He brings us to the top of the brightest mountain when we are in the bottom of the darkest valley. There are no bitter circumstances or fleshly pains able to take what we have from God. Jesus demonstrated firsthand that suffering and even death was worth enduring to bring to us life and peace.”
While this read is not an easy one, I found myself often appreciating the lengths in which it took to highlight the fact that Jesus Christ, and the unparalleled act of sacrifice he made for all of mankind, cannot be trumped.
The reader gets to experience viewpoints from several different influential characters with very different purposes. Nick Gooseberry, Sarah Johnson, and Fanak (the Fox) are the main three, with several other minor characters peppering the scenes. Nick, a successful IT businessman, allows a physical plight to drive him into taking extreme measures in order to no longer feel pain. His choices have major consequences and drive him down a dark, and unfathomable path. Sarah, an unsuspecting middle-aged woman, works to make ends meet, but also to fund a toxic addiction which winds her up in jail. However, she discovers that even in bad situations, good and growth can come from them. Fanak, a young Palestinian man, grew up knowing a life of turmoil. Driven by his hate, he coordinates several attacks on his enemies in order to bring them to their knees.
“Never trust an evil man.”
The first 20 pages or so took me forever to get into. I don’t know if it took me more time getting used to the writing style, or to the fact that Nick Gooseberry’s character was so unlikable from the get-go. I couldn’t place him in my head, or figure out what he “was playing at.” It was such an odd introduction to the story that I didn’t know what to think. Once I got past that point and met some of the other characters, I was able to delve into the story.
Reflecting on Nick’s character specifically, I believe he required (and still requires) the most work. (view spoiler)[He jumps from rich business owner to Anti-Christ with not much explanation or contemplation on his end, and I just couldn’t believe his transition. (hide spoiler)] I found that he was rather inconsistent with his character traits, despite his candor, and transformed from one being to the next without much thought. Seeing how there is a sequel to come, I hope there will be some snippets from the past revealing more of his change than what was provided here.
Similar to Nick, I think Sarah could have used a little more delineation in her reactions to what was happening in her life. She sort of floated from one incident and interaction to the next, without much reaction. While we did get to witness more of her transformation, I felt that her humanity was left behind at times.
Fanak was probably the most consistent character of the three. Never deviating from his purpose, he always knew what his end-goal was.
“Sometimes we are called upon to make great sacrifices for a great cause. The greatest sacrifices are often made by the greatest people.”
Clash is a major theme visible throughout all aspects of this plot. Conflicts between morality, religions, beliefs, power, and prestige are all driving factors behind the major issue. This evident theme makes up for the incongruity of the story-telling itself. The way the story was told, and how it jumped from character to character resulted in gaps of time without much explanation of what happened between. It made the plot somewhat choppy, and at times, hard to follow. However, with the knowledge that certain forces, people, and purposes were working against one another, it helped to tie things together enough for me to retain an idea as to what all was going on that wasn’t being explained up front.
Something I appreciate about this book (which is undoubtedly unpleasant for most, if not all readers), is how well it reveals the evil of sin. I remember having the same reaction when watching the Noah movie that came out in 2014. Biblical accuracy set aside, that movie ensnared just how evil humankind was in that period to prompt God to wipe out the entire race except for Noah’s family. There were many times that I second guessed what I was reading in A Brush with the Beast, due to language, pagan practices, and just the overall “yuck factor” I felt at different times. Then I realized, this is probably the point. As Christians, it’s easy to want to look for the good in life, the good we do, and how good God is. Yet, we cannot (as sinners) recognize the good there is without recognizing just how disgusting sin is. It’s an abomination to God, yet, all believers and non-believers alike, are riddled with it. The author did a great job at capturing this crucial element that makes the end-times so tumultuous.
I gave the rating that I did not for this book’s likability, but for its believable construct. There are many factors within that make it a difficult read. Equally, there are many factors that make it an encouraging read. There were multiple times when I was caught completely off-guard with the way the plot turned and was not expecting. I didn’t want to go into too much detail to not give anything away! If you enjoy end-times reads, with little lead-in information, and lots of unexpected twists and turns, this may be one you’ll like to check out. Just make sure you are aware of the content before diving it! (Included at the beginning of this review.)
Vulgarity: Quite a bit. Mainly by one of the main characters, Nick.
Sexual content: Some, although nothing explicit. There is a discussion of a man wanting to marry his grandson, as well as a pagan practice that ends up with sexual exploitation.
Violence: Quite a bit, including infant sacrifice and other pagan rituals.
“I can’t change what’s happening to me, so I might as well be happy.”
“Those of us who belong to Jesus are never caught in any circumstance.”
“God uses the difficulties and conflicts that come our way to transform us. We gain a deeper understanding of people who are in pain by experiencing pain for ourselves.”
“The Lord is not opposed to our having troubles. He uses troubles to strengthen our character and cultivate our patience and compassion. Without troubles we would be shallow and insensitive.”