Rummanah Aasi
  I hope everyone enjoyed Halloween yesterday. I had originally planned on reading and reviewing Scott Nicholson's debut novel, The Red Church, yesterday but unfortunately life got in the way. So today I bring you the review of The Red Church. As some of you know, Scott Nicholson is a freelance horror writer who approached me and asked if I would review some of his works on this blog. Scott provided me with a copy of The Red Church so I could provide you with an honest review. 

Description (from Scott's website): For 13-year-old Ronnie Day, life is full of problems: Mom and Dad have separated, his brother Tim is a constant pest, Melanie Ward either loves him or hates him, and Jesus Christ won't stay in his heart. Plus he has to walk past the red church every day, where the Bell Monster hides with its wings and claws and livers for eyes. But the biggest problem is that Archer McFall is the new preacher at the church, and Mom wants Ronnie to attend midnight services with her.
     Sheriff Frank Littlefield hates the red church for a different reason. His little brother died in a freak accident at the church twenty years ago, and now Frank is starting to see his brother's ghost. And the ghost keeps demanding, "Free me." Now people are dying in Whispering Pines, and the murders coincide with McFall's return.
     The Days, the Littlefields, and the McFalls are descendants of the original families that settled the rural Appalachian community. Those old families share a secret of betrayal and guilt, and McFall wants his congregation to prove its faith. Because he believes he is the Second Son of God, and that the cleansing of sin must be done in blood.
"Sacrifice is the currency of God," McFall preaches, and unless Frank and Ronnie stop him, everybody pays.

Review:  Wendell McFall was a mad Southern preacher who painted the town church red back during the Civil War, in anticipation of the birth of the Second Son of Christ. He believed the Second Son of Christ would bring death to the world as a gift. In order to initiate the Second Son's calling, Wendell sacrificed a parishioner's child at the altar and was lynched by the townsfolk as his punishment. Ever since his death, the red church has been haunted, both by McFall's ghost and some demonic shadow in the bell tower.
  Fast forward to the present, Wendell's descendant named Archer McFall has come home to resurrect the red church. He, too, is a preacher, with a television following and a lot of money behind him, back from California to restore the church to its former infamous glory. Archer has numerous faithful followers who are still living in town, and even a former mistress or two (women willing to give up their own sons), as Wendell did almost a hundred and fifty years ago. And the local police officers are concerned, because Archer's return to town has brought with it a series of mutilation murders which is caused by something neither animal nor human.
 The premise of the book sounds better than it actually is, but The Red Church is a pretty good read. You can tell Nicholson has put a lot of time and effort in creating the community of the red church. Each family is discussed in detail, which at times deters from the main storyline and slows down the book just a bit. Out of all the characters, I enjoyed reading about the two little boys, Ronnie and Timmy, who I couldn't help but root for them and hoped they were safe until the book ended. As for villains, I haven't come across a character like Archer McFall for quite some time. He is simultaneously charming and sinister. It's easy to see how he drew his followers.
  I did have a few problems with the book. There were quite a few times where the character's actions and the transitions in the book were abrupt and I wasn't always entirely sure what happened. This is particularly what troubled me in the ending of the novel. While the climax was executed quite well, I wasn't sure how everything got resolved. The nature of the red church's supernatural menace is interesting, inconsistent and confusing, however; I think there was just a bit too much time spent debating the nature of Christian beliefs, especially towards the climax and ending of the book which dragged the book longer for me.  Overall The Red Church is a pretty good horror read. It manages to give me a few chills and lots of "Eww" moments even though its plot twists are revealed prematurely.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language in the book and quite a few gory and violent parts. Since the book contains religious themes, it may be suitable for adults only. Conservative Christians may find this book offensive, although the author has no specific agenda when it comes to religion.

If you like this book try: The Harvest by Scott Nicholson

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