by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell
It's no secret to readers of my reviews that I'm a huge fan of James Rollins' novels, and have been ever since Subterranean was first published. In the years since, in addition to penning the wildly popular Sigma Force series and several excellent stand alone thrillers, he has written seven fantasy novels under the name James Clemens as well as two young adult adventures. I love that he isn't content to write the same type of story over and over. Not only has he expanded his own literary horizons, he's very much expanded my own.
The Blood Gospel is yet another new direction for Mr. Rollins. Well, two new directions, actually. For the first time, he's sharing authoring responsibilities with Rebecca Cantrell, a writer well-respected for her own historic mystery series. And while The Blood Gospel is as much a fast-paced thriller as anything Mr. Rollins has written to date, it also falls firmly in the territory of a new genre: horror.
At Masada, this is what Erin finds:
"A macabre sculpture hung on the wall, like a blasphemous crucifixion. She moved past the corner of the sarcophagus. With each step, a growing horror rose in her.What can I say? These authors can paint a tableau, and sometimes the details are haunting. I don't know if it was Mr. Rollins or Ms. Cantrell who supplied the detail of the doll, but that is the beauty of collaboration. It's hard to say who did what (I couldn't tell), but hopefully the work is stronger when two talents bring their a-game.
It wasn't a sculpture.
On the wall hung the desiccated corpse of a small girl, maybe eight years old, dressed in a tattered, stained robe. A handful of blackened arrows pinned her in place, a good yard off the floor. They pierced her chest, neck, shoulder, and thigh."
So, let's talk about religion. You may have heard, it's a hot-button topic for some. I'll be VERY curious to see the popular response to this novel. Me, I'm a secular Jew. I'm not going to lie. This got kind of New Testament for me. BUT this is not--emphatically-- Christian fiction. I wouldn't call it excessive, but there's foul language within the text. Even more noteworthy, there's some fairly steamy erotic content. (Well done, too!) So, this is NOT Christian fiction, but it has a fair amount of religion, some of which might be considered blasphemous by certain segments. Rollins tries to look at faith from different angles. At one point, Erin asks, "Why me?" and is told:
"I have followed your work, Dr. Granger. You are skeptical of religion, but steeped in biblical knowledge. As a result, you see things that nonreligious scholars could miss. Likewise, you question things that religious scholars might not. It was that rare combination that made you perfectly suited to bring the Gospel back to the world."Suffice it to say, there is significant opposition to our heroes' quest. Some of it is worldly and some of it is otherworldly. There's a big word that I'm not saying, but it won't take you long to discover the supernatural elements to the tale. Readers have seen a lot of this in recent years, but James Rollins is putting his own twist on the familiar.