Zeke Jackson, a young mild-mannered reporter with a checkered past, wants to be an on-air reporter but he has a stuttering problem. His boss sends him to a televangelist to be healed. After being slain in the spirit his stuttering disappears and he acquires an unexpected supernatural ability to see the state of people’s souls and detect their lies. As others seek to use or exploit his gift, he questions why he has it and its source. The CIA, who has worked extensively with psychics, notices his gift and hires him as an asset to help prevent an assassination plot on the president and vice president. When they bring in one of the suspects, Zeke extracts critical terrorist intel which enables the Secret Service and FBI to prevent the assassination and take down the terrorists. Book 1 sets up the backdrop for Zeke in Book 2 to investigate the powers behind the assassination attempt. In the process he discovers a darkness and evil force that permeates the entire DC hill and realizes that the fight is “against the world forces of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in high places.”
Perspective by Peter:
The more he uses this gift, the more he questions why he has been given it. Why him? What does God want him to do with it? This gift seems to be based on a Word of Knowledge. For Zeke, it comes down to using it for good or using it for nefarious reasons or for his own purposes for fame and fortune. It is only when one of the fallen angels challenges Zeke's standing with God as Zeke commanded him in Jesus' Name for him to speak to the human and not this fallen angel, that Zeke realises that he is not in a righteous relationship with God and sets about to correct this. After some soul searching and counsel from two mentoring Pastors, he repents and becomes restored to a righteous relationship with God and then God is able to utilise this gift to its fullest. I noticed two spiritual lessons here, one that we can hinder God if we are not in a righteous relationship with Him and we have no authority in Jesus' name in spiritual warfare against satanic forces. I believe this is why we need to confess our sin, repent and be restored to God on a daily basis especially if we are in any type of ministry for the Lord.
From this point on, the novel takes off as Zeke's newfound righteous relationship with God allows him to be used to a greater degree in exposing the demonic and their motives in corrupting people and enslaving them to a Godless eternity. It also exposes him to more spiritual attacks from the fallen angels. In Book 2 we have Zeke being able to not just talk to these spirits through touching (by a handshake and eye contact with the person) but he is also able to see them in the spiritual realm albeit as snakes and in varying species and degrees of venomousness and who are able to bite and envenomate Zeke. But the effects of this were dispelled by Yahweh Rophe (God our Healer) through prayer and by a leaf from the Tree of Life (given to him after a spiritual dream).
Throughout both novels, we have the Frank Peretti-esque fallen angel arcs that add more tension, suspense and spiritual warfare. We see the rules of engagement and plans that are concocted against Zeke and defensive combat against the former's plans. In one instance we see plans to use human sexuality and temptation against Zeke to make him fall from Grace (that is sin) with Abby. I notice here that another spiritual lesson is highlighted. We need to have boundaries around us and in our attitude and behaviour towards the opposite sex and when we are in a relationship with them before we are married. I did this with my fiancee, however, ours was stricter than what Lupinetti has depicted between Zeke and Abby. However, because Abby was not a Christian (but accepted these boundaries), she was spiritually unguarded and unprotected against sexual temptation and possession from one of the fallen angels to seduce Zeke and thwart his relationship with God and hinder the use of his gifts. Zeke realises just in time what is afoot here and although came very close to the enemy's plan being fulfilled, he successfully destroyed their plans through prayer and discernment and spiritual wisdom provided to him by the Lord.
I did wonder while reading this segment that the author had depicted no warning about being unequally yoked with an unbeliever as it states in 2 Corinthians 6: 14, however, it is not difficult to see that this is a plot arc that will be explained further in the novels, and predictably, as Abby becomes more familiar and accepting and understanding of Zeke, his beliefs, their founding in the Bible, his counsel of her in topics of the Bible, in particular, spiritual warfare, demonology, angelology, prayer, the nature of God and who He is, that she will become a Christian. So does this answer the question of being unequally yoked in the true sense of this Corinthian verse? I believe so, (at that point in Book 1, but not so in Book 2). However, in my studies as a young Christian (4 decades ago!), one Pastor went further into this and stated that being unequally yoked could also apply amongst Christians, and Zeke and Abby are examples of this. This Pastor believed that spiritually mature Christians should not have a romantic relationship or marry a spiritually immature or newly converted Christian. I can just imagine the debate over this controversial statement! Is this biblical? I cannot see the Corinthian verse applicable here as a new/immature Christian is not in darkness anymore.
This novel is very much about spiritual warfare. While Lupinetti is successful in depicting this Biblically, there was one instance that showed a different outcome from exorcism. When Abby was exorcised of the seductive fallen angel, this angel was not cast out and sent to Hell, but upon this spirit's request was cast into Zeke's dog. It is very much like the casting of the evil spirits out of the possessed man in the Bible where the spirits (called Legion, for there were many of them) were cast into a herd of pigs. I wondered if Lupinetti was using this example from the Bible to show that not all exorcisms have the same outcome. Either way, it could be said that it is still Biblical. A later meeting of the evil spirits in the novel made note of this seducing spirit being lost to them forever.
I did wonder why when Zeke commands to speak to the possessed human and not the possessing spirit (fallen angel) the latter are very polite in requesting Zeke to not harm them. I wondered why Lupinetti did not have Zeke cast this spirit out of the person? I wondered why the fallen angels were not aggressive, abusive, or antagonistic towards Zeke upon his command to speak to the human and not these spirits. But Lupinetti may have his reasons for this but I would have liked this to be explained in the novel somewhere and somehow so that this aspect of spiritual warfare and of the nature of fallen angels/evil spirits is consistent Biblically and not left to the reader to draw their own conclusions (and therefore unbiblical ones).
Lupinetti shows a great love of the Gospel in these novels. He is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and presents it as it is. The accounts of the Gospels in parts and in various conversations are great and do not detract from the plot. It actually enhances it and provides a firm foundation on which all the plot arcs are based. The inclusion of actual prayer, be that of protection, exorcism, wisdom, repentance, discernment, faith, or help is an example that shows the power of Christians living out their faith and being a disciple of God and spiritual warriors.
Putting all the above elements of this together makes these novels shine on the power of the Cross, of the Spirit of God, of the resources and authority that Christians have in having a righteous relationship with Jesus and that we are not in oppression/possession to the wiles of any fallen angel or evil spirit.
This series (and there are many more like this) show how we can live a victorious life when we are submitted to God and live by His Word and what He has bestowed upon us in defeating our spiritual enemy. It also encourages us in our daily life, to live our lives in faith. It encourages us to worship God and not any evil spirit or angel for that matter, we are to worship God, the Creator and not any form of the Created.
This series gives us a look at angelology, demonology, spiritual warfare, where we stand in Christ, the victory over our fallen nature and the authority we have in Christ Jesus.
This is Christian fiction at a level of its finest. I applaud Lupinetti for not being ashamed of Christ's Gospel and presenting it as it is. No watering down or distortion of the Bible's truth or its doctrines.
Seeing this review is based on both novels, there is so much more I could write about, but that would make for one longer review than what I have already composed here. I encourage any reader, whether Christian or not, to read this series and pay attention to what is included here and not just for its entertainment value.
I would love to see Lupinetti provide some Appendices at the end of the novel or even a separate publication that further explains and explores more about the spiritual warfare and Biblical themes for the education of the Christian and the non-Christian who may be seeking a better life and its meaning or an explanation of the evil that exists in this world.
I am so looking forward to the third novel in this series and I understand that it is about 2/3 completed. So not long to wait!! I agree with another reviewer on Amazon that Dante has endless storylines available in these speculative questions, especially since Book 2 is about another spiritual gift and relates to its title: Sight Enabled. Is Dante creating this series based on spiritual giftings anchored in the five senses? Book 1 is Touch Enabled, and Book 2 is Sight Enabled. What will the next three cover, Smell, Hearing, or Taste? That last one will be interesting!
Amendment to this review:
In October 2022, I received an advanced copy of the next novel, Book 3, Hearing Enabled. The spiritual warfare continues and the attacks on Zeke continue. His relationship with God deepens and he becomes more reliant on God. The romance between Abby and him deepens resulting in what we all expected. But it is not an easy road for them as the spiritual warfare attacks hinder their intentions for a "normal" romance.
This series is a strong entry into the world of Christian fiction, specifically speculative fiction. A successful and well-constructed novel/series with great depth, layers, and biblically-based themes, and a great witness to the God we all love and serve. Dante is an author to be on readers' radar for Biblically-based fiction that will encourage their faith, and relationship with God and honour God.I highly recommend this series.
The following three ratings are based on my judgment:
World Building 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
The two classifications below are based on the booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland:
Spiritual Level 5: Spirit-filled Fiction
Level 5: the battle for the spirit and mind.
"These books share the true power of a spirit-filled life totally given over to Jesus. They show an intimate personal relationship where a character has two way communication with his Lord and Messiah. Such a character not only speaks to God, he or she hears from the Lord on a regular basis—often hourly, normally daily. This reveals the wonder of the transformed child of God as they are trained, discipled, disciplined, and blessed."I bestow unto Dante the: