I opened the book at the first page, without reading the blurb or the author’s notes, and just started reading, wanting to see if it held any interest for me: I didn’t put the book down until the last page! It gripped me from the first sentence through the horror-filled story right to the bitter end.
The story starts and is told in its entirety in one location, a born-again church revival meeting. It is set in North Devon, a fact I only found out after I had finished reading. I had gone through the whole book feeling it was set in America. But location doesn’t really matter and it could, in effect, be set anywhere. this book is all about the characters: their feelings, their reactions, their instincts. And they are absolutely beautifully written. you feel like you know them entirely, they are sympathetic, frustrating and maddening. Some are loveable others are detestable.
Amongst the congregation is an atheist who wants some answers. He is also wrapped up in enough explosives to blow the entire building and all its occupants sky high.
This is tense.
The would-be-bomber is a complex character; in one moment horrifically brutal and uncaring of anyone’s lives, but in the next showing a tenderness and emotion that takes you by surprise.
There are about eighty people at the meeting; amongst them is a disabled woman, an alcoholic, a sax player, a woman about to give birth and a teenager. These characters play their particular parts, bringing along their back stories and their reasons for being in the church. The author gets inside the characters heads superbly well. The people they are and their reactions to the situation they find themselves in are both realistic, very emotional and sometimes surprising. I defy anyone not to be heartbroken at Mike’s story, or to go through a roller-coaster of emotions at Emma and Peter’s story; awaiting their first child and realising that child is going to be born in the worst possible circumstances.