Thursday 15 September 2022

Body and Blood - Michael Gallagher

Body and Blood
Michael Gallagher
ISBN 9780578950112
eISBN 9780578950129

This is the debut novel by Michael Gallagher. I picked it up because I have been working my way through Declan Finn’s Saint Tommy NYPD series and Declan gave a shout out to the book. I have been greatly enjoying Declan’s books at the pace of about a book a week and thought I would give this one a try. This one takes it to a whole new level. I have said about the Saint Tommy series that: “I said before I was a little hesitant to start this series. It seemed a little over the top. And from the authors, publishing people, and friends it was so hyped I was afraid it would disappoint.” This one hit that over the top. And as much as I believe it is a good story with a family background steeped in the occult, freemasonry, and the orange order there were parts of this that were hard to read. I almost put it down twice. It presents spiritual warfare in a whole new light. It also presents the ministry of priests and especially exorcists in a very clear light. But with my past that did not make it an easy read. 

That being said there is a second novel announce on the publishers site and some short stories that are supposed to be coming soon. But Corinna Turner has had some works that were 'coming soon' for over a half a decade, so I do not always trust authors when they state that. I will pick them up and give them a read. Especially after the hints in this volume I am very intrigued about The Golden Scapular. Before the story begins is this quote from Father Chad Ripperger. Catholic Priest and Exorcist:

 “The intensity of the upcoming chastisements will be horrific because it has gotten to the point that human beings are beyond correction from the outside.  God will bring everyone to their knees and it will be brutally painful.”  

The description of the book is:

“Father James Keenan and Father Akono Nwosu are men of faith in a world with its back to God. A world where unmoored humanity stumbles along searching for meaning. Here, every tarot parlor in the Psychic District offers an easy answer, the forces of Hell itself roam the streets and interparish gang tensions constantly threaten to boil over.

The only ones keeping a lid on it all are the warrior-priests who wield the Rite of Exorcism as a weapon in a spiritual war that rages all around us.

Negotiating peace between the local gangs, running the soup kitchen, and finishing the parish bulletins were difficult enough. Now kids are disappearing off the streets, churches are being vandalized with an ominous symbol, and everyone has a feeling that strange woman in the Black Hollow Projects is behind it all, but are too afraid to say anything.

Fearing for the safety of their flock, Keenan and Nwosu must now race to discover the fate of the kids, knowing that all of this is happening right around a once-in-a-lifetime feast day devoted to an ancient life-hating demon can’t be a coincidence.”

It is a classic good vs evil book. An interesting approach of having the priests be friends with the Russians, a motor cycle club called the Widow Makers, and looking after kids at the parish and parish school. The pace is nearly non-stop from the get go. And we see where things are headed pretty quickly. The interesting part is seeing how the different factions come together to work against the evil, even if for different purposes.

The book has some pretty dark parts, child sacrifice, a slew of victims awaiting torture and death, demons and their facilitators. But there are also priests living to serve, stepping into the line of fire no matter the personal risk. Spiritual visions, and revelations. About thirty years ago Frank E. Peretti was very popular in evangelical circles; I loved his books This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness but by the time I read his book The Oath I felt like I was reading a Christianized Stephen King, just sprinkle some Jesus on it. When I finished The Oath I felt slimed, like I needed to go to confession. This book is not there but it is close. The way the story was resolved had several redeeming qualities. And the writing was excellent. The characters are very well done. Especially the three priests; Father James Keenan, Father Akono Nwosu, and Father Mateo are very well written. 

As a debut novel it is very well written. It is maybe a little over ambitious in the number of elements and plot lines. The climactic battle feels a bit like the Woody Allen and Peter Sellers Casino Royal one. But even with that said. I would absolutely give another story by Gallagher a read. But for this one, be warned it is not for all readers. There is a fair bit of humour, but also a lot of darkness. I would not recommend this one for teens. And even only for mature young adults.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Michael Gallagher:
The Golden Scapular

Short Stories:
King of the Jerks
Last Chance Lane

No comments: