Friday, 19 August 2022

Novella Review: It Came Upon A Midnight by Fayla Ott

 I reviewed this novel on 01/12/19 in a previous blog, now defunct.

It Came Upon A Midnight

Another spiritual warfare plays out in this novella written by Fayla Ott, author of AFFLICTED.

Christmas has come early for Avery when she gets a job at a tourist home in the small town of Herald, Ms. For years, she has heard the stories about the haunted house and the ghostly statue on the property. At first, she disregards them as urban legends until she comes face to face with spiritual forces that threaten not only her job, but her life.

What happened between Frederick and Helen Bailey the night she died? Why did he insist on building a statue in her image to place where he could view it everyday? Are the rumors true? Did Frederick murder his wife in 1892? Does he and his wife still haunt the Bailey property?

Perspective by Peter:

I was really excited to see this new offering from Fayla Ott. I became a fan of her writing since I reviewed Afflicted earlier this year.

Afflicted did not disappoint and this new novella has not either. I can see this novella being the first in a new series. Ott has a passion for depicting spiritual warfare biblically and this novella portrays that again, just like she did in Afflicted. Fott sets up this story with a haunted house and as the novella progresses it raises the question whether the haunting is due to ghosts, urban legends or demons.

Avery becomes spooked by strange happenings in the house as she is setting it up for a Christmas display. As with most suspenseful stories, it is the curiosity of the main character(s) that progresses the story further and we see Avery exploring the house in areas where she should not and yes, she encounters the source of the haunting. She also discovers more about the house's sordid past.

It is with a conversation with her friend, Lisa, that Fott establishes what and who the source are.

Ott provides a very important Biblical insight to how we need to live. This conversation between Avery and Lisa shows what they are dealing with and what we need to be focussing on in order to be victorious against them,

“You’re serious, aren’t you? You really believe demons act like ghosts?” “Yes. I think it’s rare, but obviously something evil happened here to invite demonic activity. Demons can take the form of humans to fool people into believing in things which deter them from the truth.” “We’ve never talked about this at my church. I wonder why.” “People do not like to talk about it. I guess we have to be careful, though. We need to be aware of them, but we shouldn’t obsess over their presence. We have to focus on the presence of Christ instead.”

It is a sad and tragic indictment on the Christian Church if what Lisa says above is not talked about, and Christians equipped Biblically and spiritually to deal with the demonic. Avery is secure in the truth she speaks in this quote above, discerns their tactics and despite being affected by them, she does not let this overtake her or give in to her fear.  It is here that Ott depicts more Biblical truth in dealing with them. How Avery distinguishes between what is a ghost and what is a demon is what every Christian should know from this conversation I have included above and what the Bible states about this that Ott has included at the beginning of the novella,

…For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. ---2 Corinthians 11:14 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. ----James 3:15-16 Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8 The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

On top of these Biblical truths and principles that identify our opponent, Ott employs one of the most important and powerful ones, that calling on the name of Jesus to defeat them. And using this principle is successful as it always is as there is nothing more powerful than the name of Jesus to defeat any attack of any demon or satan himself. One other aspect depicted here is the Spirit of God, speaking to Avery, reinforcing to her that she belongs to Him. From this, we are to understand and accept that seeing He died for our sin, and to restore us back to Him, He has broken the bondage of sin and death and has given us the power over the demonic and satan so we do not have to feel or act defeated or become "owned" by those forces. It all gets down to who we are in Christ. (That is another topic for another day!).

When I read the names of the demons, I recognised them as those from Afflicted. This was a good move on Ott's part. And the angels were from that novel as well. It is from this aspect that Ott could carry this series further, but more to the point, she has left some plot arcs loosely open. It is this can would be the main driving thrust to progress this to a series. What does happen to Sam and Avery? What happens to Sonnellion and Belias? What happens with Avery’s being reunited with her foster parents? 

I would have loved this story to be longer. Short stories or novella always have their characteristic shortness as their main restriction but it all depends on the ability of the author to pack in as much as possible without compromising story, characters and pace. Short stories and novellas do not need to impress the reader that everything is rushed or shallow to fit into this short " space". Ott does not compromise here in this offering but if it continues as a series, this needs to be longer or even novel size to do the subject matter the proper justice. This is an important topic that a longer size or in novel size would lend itself well to.

A sobering account of spiritual warfare set against the background of Christmas. Ott achieves what Christian fiction should do, entertain, uplift, educate (equip) and draw both Christian and non-Christian closer to God.

Strongly Recommended. 

The three ratings below are based on my discernment:

World Building 5/5
Characters 5/5

Story 5/5

The two classifications below are based on the booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland:

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 5/5

Overall Rating: 4.8 Stars

If you would like to investigate It Came Upon A Midnight, click on the image below:

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Reviews help promote an author’s novel to potential readers and encourage the author to keep writing. Reviews also help get the author’s message (and God’s message) to the reader, whether Christian or not, who may need encouragement and support in their lives while being entertained by the story.

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