pinterest-7bf66.html Reviews by Peter: Death is Not the End, Daddy by Nate Allen

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Death is Not the End, Daddy by Nate Allen

Death is Not the End, Daddy 

John Doe is a killer. Fourteen children in the last twenty-six years. Teddy tells him to and he listens. He has to listen. He is parked across the street from the elementary school in Payne, North Dakota, waiting for Teddy to tell him the name of the next child. He hasn’t yet, but he will…

For Matthew Mills, God is good. It's the only truth Matthew needs. But, pain is still pain. It has only been a week since his wife had her second miscarriage in the last three years. She has become a shell of who she was. Only his daughter Marcy is a light in his life.

What would happen if she was taken away?

The Guru's Review: 

I should start out by saying if the description makes you uneasy, please ignore this uneasiness and persist with this novel. 

I was uneasy when I read this description as I don't like serial killer plots, especially when it involves children. However, the author asked me to review this and having read some of his other novels, I know his mindset. I therefore I know it will be based on the Bible, it will not glorify serial killers, it will not be gory and his motive for writing it is not to show horror for horror sake. I know it will show victory over our fallen nature through faith in God, through his Spirit or not in any strength of our own.  And the author definitely shows this in this novel. 

He has described this novel as his best. It is not his latest, but I agree with him, it is his best.  Very different to The Faceless Future trilogy that he has released now (episodic instalments of a novel) in writing style, genre, pace and narrative. All this does is show how versatile this author is. 

When I started reading this novel and John Doe starts describing how he kills under the instruction of a "talking" stuffed toy (a teddy bear, hence the name Teddy), I found this very creepy. I hate novels or movies where inanimate objects have control over humans. It speaks of one thing and one thing only. Demonic possession and/or possession. I did not like this half of the novel. And I nearly gave up due to my dislike of serial killer novels involving children. The other aspect to this dislike is that I hate the mindset of the perpetrators. The TV show Criminal Minds contributed greatly to this, I did not finish Season 1 of that TV show! 

Towards the end of the first half of this novel, I wondered when Allen would show the why and the how of this demonic oppression and if John becomes free of this? Allen does not keep you in suspense for too long. The second half is where it all falls into place and as it did, I then wondered when the author was going to deal with it from a Biblical perspective, as I knew he would. 

I was not to be disappointed! This second half adds a much detailed spiritual layer to the plot and the mindset of John Doe and Teddy compared to the first half. It is here that Allen shines with the biblical point of view in dealing demonic oppression. The first half describes the consequences of the demonic oppression that John is in bondage to while the second describes the how and the why and provides one very satisfying resolution to this from the Biblical point of view.

What helped my uneasiness in reading this novel was the alternating character arcs of Matthew and Janet Mills, their pain and grieving of losing two children due to miscarriage, and then the subsequent kidnapping and murder of their 8-year-old daughter Marcy by John Doe. Just when I was getting further creeped out by John and his actions and control by Teddy, I was given a reprieve by the further development of the plot arcs concerning Matthew and Janet. However, this was a bit uneasy for me too as I could relate to this couple losing children through miscarriage as my wife and I lost two prior to our existing two daughters. One of these was through miscarriage and the other through premature birth. I was affected by Matthew's reaction and Janet's reminded me so much of what my wife went through. It is every parent's nightmare to have their child abducted or go missing without a trace and I shared the Mills' grief, despair, loss, anger, frustration at this loss. These circumstances definitely endeared me to Janet and Matthew. I wanted to so much offer my empathy and counsel to them!

It is a very clever plot construction when an author intertwines plot arcs together and you know that they will eventually intersect and bring the ending of this novel to a climatic ending or one mighty cliffhanger where you wait in bated breath for the next instalment. The former is true in this novel. The alternating plot arcs of the Mills' grief over their miscarriages, their waxing and waning faith and feelings towards God in relation to this, and John's desire and quest to be free of Teddy's bondage give you plenty of indication and suspense that these two paths will eventually intersect. I must confess, I was convinced I knew when this would occur, but then Allen changed course and this intersection occurred at a point that I was not expecting! This led to a great ending! I was exhilarated, spiritually uplifted and even felt a measure of closure in my own grief (left over from our loss of children over 25 yrs ago) that had troubled me since. I thank the author for portraying grief and God's response so realistically and sensitively. This reinforces my belief that God can and does use fiction to minister to the reader where they are at. All it takes is an author who is willing to be a willing instrument for the Spirit to use and one who wants to write for God and let Him be the real author. This novel shows Allen as one of those authors. 

One highlight of this novel was how Allen developed the spiritual aspects. I appreciate the inclusion of God in a novel where He interacts with the characters. In this novel, we have Him minister to both Janet and Matthew Mills and John directly either in a supernatural appearance or for the most part, as a voice to their mind or spirit. For John, it was the latter. I found this depiction of the Spirit refreshing and how Allen had Him guide, encourage, and instruct these three characters was as what I would expect Him to say if He was doing the same to me. It is relational, specific and appropriate. Throughout the Bible, we can see that what God says in His interaction with His human creation shows the nature of His personality and His many attributes and I felt the same here with Allen's depiction. But it also shows Allen's commitment to writing for God and being used by the Spirit to write a novel that shows the Omnipotency of His character and Jesus's victory over sin and death, including over bondage from demonic possession.

Allen's depiction of the Spirit guiding John to deliverance from the bondage of the demon inhabiting Teddy, the stuffed toy, is a joy to read. Allen has depicted a side of spiritual warfare using the Biblical principle of calling on the name of Jesus to be saved in order to be delivered from demonic oppression. This is very effective in breaking the bondage John is under and he revels in his new found freedom. The end result is that He becomes the new creation that only happens when God frees us from sin and death. There is more that Allen includes that follows on from this in him getting to know God once he accepts God's forgiveness. I pray that Allen's depiction of this deliverance will be a great encouragement to anyone who is under any degree of demonic oppression and be the same for the Christian who does not know anything about this topic. It was a wise depiction showing this.  

I also found the same with how Allen has depicted the Spirit ministering to Janet and Matthew Mills. Both had different reactions to their loss and relations ship with God. God meet their needs according to what would heal them and restore them to Him. I loved the open channel that Matthew had with God and even when his faith wavered and he rebelled he still came back, repented and restored himself to God. I loved the spiritual lesson that Matthew learnt from their last miscarriage. I can see how this would be easy to fall into without realising it until it is brought to your attention. Matthew was humble enough to see his mistake, the reasons for it, its consequences and repent of it. In the process he was letting go of his pain, dealing with his grief and being a support to his wife in her grief. And likewise, Janet had her own issue with rebelling against God in her grief and only God's intervention restored her faith and she then became a support to Matthew as he struggled with his grief as described above. 

Allen's depiction of the demonic oppression of John was dark and devasting. This demonic spirit shows up as a result of John's father's actions through his sin and is a generational one as described by his father. Not only did this spirit exert its power over John but it affected negatively many others including Matthew and led to the death of an adult. However, it is no match for the invocation of Jesus' name when John in being oppressed by this spirit. Very biblical as evidenced by the following verses: 
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
Romans 10:13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Allen is quite the master at showing the complexity of this demonic oppression and how it manifested in John and the connection to his father (it borders on being dark and tense). From reading the events surrounding this oppression and the explanation as to the how and the why of it, this spirit's manifestation in John was far more extensive than his father. Reading how the events played out, one can only feel compassion for John from the emotional devastation this oppression and the murders had on him. It is all the more joyous when you see him decide to be free from this spiritual bondage and respond to the promptings and revelations from the Spirit of God including the use of visions that God provided of his mother to show more of the truth of this spiritual bondage and what John must consider in being free.

I must make mention that it was a clever plot construct having a spiritual connection from Marcy that sparked the desire for John to be free and subsequently joining both the major arcs of the Mills and John together that led to one very successful and satisfying ending. There is a hint of something through an event in the novel concerning Matthew that comes to light at the very end of the novel. This just made my enjoyment and appreciation of the novel all the more.

Despite my dislike of serial killer plots, abduction and murder of children and this making this novel difficult to read at first, there is much to be enjoyed, edified and faith strengthened in this novel. This novel is Allen's best and it showcases his creativity, talent and willingness to write for God and allow Him to compose the story He wants to be written. The author has stated that he was guided by God through every word. To me, this shows.

I would love to see Allen compose more novels like this one. They would minister to the reader who is going through similar or can relate to these issues. And it strengthens the faith and knowledge of God in the believer and may even spark the beginning of faith in the unbeliever and lead them back to God. 

Highly recommended.

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 5/5

Overall Rating 4.8/5 Stars

Spiritually, based on my review and on the following reference booklet,

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that Death is Not the End, Daddy contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Redemptive Fiction outlined in this booklet, together with David Bergsland we award Nate Allen with

The Reality Calling Redemptive Fiction Award

Congratulations, Nate!

If you would like to buy or preview this novel, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icon on the image below:

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