Reviewed by Darcie Gudger
Vanished by Kathryn Mackel
"Mackel delivers what most SF readers crave while presenting the Gospel in a unique way."
A bomb explodes. Two prototype trains cross paths. People are dead or injured. A strange mist envelops much of Brcester, Massachusetts. No one can get out – or in.
Police Sergeant Jason Logan, nurse Kaya de los Santos and a crotchety federal agent are the only ones levelheaded enough to try and corral the catastrophic chaos and confusion. At first, being told ambulances and rescue squads would arrive in minutes appeases Joe Public. Logan isn’t surprised all communication within a short distance of the blast zone is knocked out, but when he returns to the substation to radio for help, he discovers all communication, electricity and water services are gone
Kaya’s son, Ben was seen at the bombsite, waving people away from the blast area moments before the explosion. Logan tracks him down for questioning and soon discovers he’s not the only one hunting Ben.
Lines of injured people crowd at the makeshift medical center located in the basement of a church. Despite the pharmacy owner’s gift of supplies, Kaya lacks what’s needed to treat the more serious and mortal wounds. Praying without ceasing helps her through procedures only medical doctors are allowed to perform. When will help come?
The mist is not smoke or even a debris cloud. It has a life of its own. It won’t let anyone out or in. Logan and Kaya realize with horror they are the help and this terrorist attack is only a warm-up run.
I devoured Vanished in two days. The plot is so intriguing, so different from anything else out there. I had to get through it… had to know who the bad guy really is -- what the mysterious mist conceals or reveals. The book’s right side shrank but resolution seemed farther away. The last page seemed to cut off in the middle of the climax! I felt like the dog that picked up speed hoping to jump a deep gully but didn’t think about the leash until it was too late.
Ugh! So. Not. Fair. I surfed over to Mackel’s website and found two tiny words that put my desperate-for-more mind at ease: Book One.
Couldn’t find out anything more, but when someone labels a novel ‘book one’, that means there has to at least be a number two. Oooohhh, there better be. And it’s not just because I’m a pure adrenaline junkie. I care about what happens to Kaya, Logan and Ben.
Mackel crafts three-dimensional people. People with many layers, undiscovered layers. Even though circumstances force both Kaya and Logan into heroic roles, they are still human. They still fail and make mistakes. Ben is the archetypical troubled teen. He feels life is hopeless, but Mackel gives us a glimpse that’s not the case. The characters allow me to throw away and suspend my disbelief without realizing it. Perfect for a sci-fi novel.
I did! I said science fiction. Mackel kicks open a door under the doorknob of which some have been prying furniture for too long. Popular trends (TV, movies, print) show great demand for sci-fi and speculative fiction, fiction that isn’t bound by the natural laws of planet Earth as we know it. For years, Christians who love sci-fi had to peruse the secular selections. Some wonderful, others downright porno.
Mackel delivers what most SF readers crave while presenting the Gospel in a unique way. I strongly suggest giving this book as a gift to friends and family who don’t know Jesus Christ personally. Vanished isn’t only great fiction, it’s a great witnessing tool. Use it.
If you love Lawhead, Dekker, L’Engle, and anything Star Wars, this book is a must read. Go buy it. Read it. Supply and demand. Demand Christian SF, and it will come.
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.