Red Church by Scott Nicholson

This is the second of Scott Nicolson’s books I have read (my review of Skull Ring).  The Red Church is a similarly creepy book.

The story centers around a red church that has been abandoned.  The rural community says it is haunted by the ghost of a preacher that was hung by his congregation for heresy.  Because this is static rural community parts of the family of both the preacher and his community are still here about six generations later.  The main character is a 11 year old boy.  The story is told from the view point of a variety of characters, but his family are the main narrators.  His mom, is a member of the cult.  His father has saved her from the cult one time in the past.  There is also a sub-plot with the Sheriff that that has experience with the Ghost of the original pastor.

The heresy is unique (at least to me.)  The preacher said that Jesus was the older of two sons and failed to redeem the world, so God allowed his younger son to come to Earth to redeem what was messed up by Jesus.

Like many cults there is a distortion of Christian faith by the community that continued on the original preacher’s legacy.  The sacrifice of Jesus is seen as insufficient and the body and blood of the Eucharist are taken as a literal need for body and blood.  (Early Christians were often thought to be cannibals because those around the church, but not actually in the church heard the language of the Eucharist, but did not participate in it.)  There is also a central idea of sacrifice (like Abraham sacrificing Issac.)

Like I said with Skull Ring, I have not read a lot of horror genre.  But I enjoyed the writing and the voice of the book.  My internal discussion around the book really centered around the horror genre.  I have read Dracula and a variety of Vampire books.  Those do not seem “dangerous” for lack of a better word to the Christian faith.  But this book was directly discussing heresy.  And like many vampire books, the Christian faith discussed in this book was real and very present.  In many ways, it was more present than in some Christian fiction books.  There is power in the Christian faith and in Jesus that is not of the “self-help” variety. (That is also true of virtually all of the vampire books I have read.)  First, I would not consider this a Christian Fiction book.  The Red Church assumes Christianity is real, but does not really discuss it.  Most Christian Fiction can get preachy and is often overtly “evangelistic” (the main character has to get saved or save someone.)  Red Church is not in that type of Christian Fiction.  Now if you just have to assume that Christianity is real to be classified as Christian Fiction, then this would be Christian fiction, but then so would many other books, like virtually all classic Russian novels or most novels written before 1800.

I need to read some more horror genre books to really explore the ideas that this brings up for me.

This was a good book, with good writing, good characters and a creepy feel (different type of creepy from Skull Ring).  The Skull Ring was a psychological thriller.  The main character in Skull Ring was being treated for paranoia.  Nicholson does a great job showing her fear and still making it so that you are not sure whether it is just paranoia or someone really is trying to get her.

The Red Church you know something is happening, there is a question about whether what is happening is supernatural at the beginning of the book, but after about half you know who the bad guy is.  The creepiness is from the result and what is going to happen, not the psychological questions.


Disclosure: An electronic copy of this book was provided free for the purposes of review.

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