Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage


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Valley of Bones by Eric Wilson

Reviewed by Darcie Gudger

"Wilson creates nuclear fission when he collides the plots from Dark to Mortal Eyes, Expiration Date and even his Aramis Black books into Valley of Bones."

Note to all you I’m-so-over-the-vampire-thing readers: Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy ain’t no Twilight wanna be or rip off. So don’t do the eye roll thing and head for inter-galactic Amish dinosaur thillers, go ahead and pick up these books and see vampires for what they really are: Pure Evil.

Long ago in Old Testament times, God raised up the Nistarim as immortal guardians of His human creation until He returns. These special agents bear the burdens of humanity and are called to a life that sets them apart from their wards. Immortality doesn’t protect them from destruction; it just means they can’t succumb to death of natural causes. When one of the Nistarim falls, another is raised up to take his place. Forces of evil cannot rule the planet as long as this army remains strong in numbers.

The Collectors of Souls finally gained corporeal access to the world when an ancient crypt was opened by accident under the suicide site of Judas Iscariot. This group, the Akeldama Collectors, set as its goal the total annihilation of the Nistarim. Once the Nistarim are destroyed, the Final Vengeance can be ushered in, undoing the work of the Nazarene.

In Valley of Bones the Collectors are closing in on their goal. Nistarim are falling. Replacements are being murdered within hours of birth. It seems like Final Vengeance lurks on the horizon. The Collectors believe the only thing needed to complete the job is the Nazarene’s Crown of Thorns.

But someone stands in the way. Gina Lazarescu. A young woman with a mysterious past and painful present and heroic future. Along with Cal Nichols, Gina sets out on a quest to protect the last of the Nistarim and win the race to the hiding place of the Crown of Thorns in order to do battle to stop the Collector’s evil plot. Things go from bad to worse as an evil army is built in the Valley of Bones. Time is running out. It looks like all the Nistarim have fallen… but…

Wilson creates nuclear fission when he collides the plots from Dark to Mortal Eyes, Expiration Date and even his Aramis Black books into Valley of Bones. I found myself leaping from my chair sending cats a-flying saying, “So that’s what this is all about,” and proceeding to explain all the connections to my displaced feline friends. Making those discoveries and connecting the dots was as exciting as the plot unfolding before me.

Tedd Dekker does this. Most of his novels are connected to his Circle Trilogy. But those connections can be subtle and only the more observant readers will notice. Wilson is not subtle. And it works for him. How? It made me go back and read through all of his books again to have that satisfaction of finally being “in” on the plot. Wilson and Dekker are among the few authors, aside from classics like C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and George MacDonald, who I’ve read and re-read.

That being the case, I recommend reading Expiration Date either after Field of Blood or Haunt of Jackels.

Back to my opening note to the so-over-vampires crowd. True, those blood suckers are everywhere. But Wilson deviates far from the tired cliché and paints a radically different image of them than does Stephenie Meyer. I’ve read the Twilight series, which was not easy. Craft aside, I just didn’t buy into the whole vampires as good guys thing. It bothered me that they were soulless without any hope of redemption. Which makes them forever separated from God. Why would anyone crave that as Bella did?

What kind of heroine is Bella? I saw her as a whiny, wimpy teen who couldn’t find any value in herself outside of a romantic relationship with a boy. Without Edward or Jacob, she felt she was nothing.

Gina Lazarescu is a tough, gutsy survivor. She makes Buffy look like a weeny. One of Gina’s flaws is over-reliance on self. But that’s what makes her likeable and relatable. Who’s the better role model here?

Eric Wilson’s portrayal of vampires puts them in their place. Depraved. Evil. Downright disgusting. Inside their lair, they have a dynamic mural, Six, No Seven Things. This mural glorifies all that is an abomination to the One True God. In real time. Using real flesh from human prey. Nothing about these creatures is admirable or something worth emulating. No glittering Edwards here!

Jerusalem’s Undead is not a read for the squeamish. Vampires are icky and Wilson paints some vivid scenes of that ickyness. Readers engrossed in the supernatural fiction, horror, and vampire genres will find this fascinating. But what ultimately sets this series apart from all the others is that True Good overcomes evil. The power of the Nazarene is greater than that of the vampires. All who chose to exercise their power of choice accordingly will find glorious eternal life with Christ.

Darcie Gudger is a freelance writer currently working on a young adult novel while trying to solve all the mysteries of motherhood with her adopted son, Kyle. In her spare time, she coaches the 2A Colorado State Champion Sheridan High School colorguard, judged equipment for the Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association and sings for the Bear Valley church choir and worship team. An adventure-seeker who lives and writes in the shadow of the Rocky mountains, Darcie loves hiking, camping, cycling, photography and keeping her husband guessing. Visit Darcie online at her blog, Joy in the Litterbox.