Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review Friday

Orgy of Souls

by Wrath James White and Maurice Broaddus

Direct Link: Orgy of Souls

Blurb from Apex Book Company

Twenty for one.

Twenty souls for his brother's life is a price that seductively beautiful Samson is willing to pay. Twenty souls drenched in blood, powdered with cocaine and more than one kind of ecstasy. A fair trade for the life of a brother. A fair trade for the life of a priest. And everyone he meets seems so willing to give theirs away.

Samuel's faith often wavers. Diagnosed with HIV and in rapid decline, he hides his disillusionment in the rituals of the priesthood. But when Samson brings him the first blood-signed contract for a young woman's immortal soul, the steamy world of high fashion male models and the quiet decay of a sickly priest begin to writhe against the realities of life, death, and otherworldly power.

Brotherly love is a deadly seduction, beauty a dangerous game. Come worship in the brutal temple of Orgy of Souls. Your faith will never be the same again.

There are books that make an indelible impression upon us long after we've finished them. These stories haunt our waking moments, creep into our subconscious and tug at preconceived notions of what defines good and what constitutes evil. Orgy of Souls is such a book.

The problem with believing such rigid definitions is sooner or later that belief will be challenged, shattered by experience, only to be pieced together into something that's perhaps a little worse for wear, its recipient a bit sadder and possibly wiser. What is it said about experience as a teacher?

Is Samson the villain for wanting to take souls in exchange for his brother's life? Who of us might not be tempted to make the same bargain, especially if we see our loved one's prayers seemingly ignored despite his or her faith and devotion.

Some Christians will tell you God works in mysterious ways and everything He does is for a purpose. Depending on whether you're an atheist or devout Christian, you could either take that to mean God is capricious and uncaring or that God is testing your faith, making you stronger. But at whose expense?

For Samuel, faith is the driving force that keeps him going, despite the pain, the fear, and the desperation to appear one way to his parishioners while struggling to deal with a body that's betrayed him. The only ones he can talk to are his brother, Samson, and Nkosi, a young woman from South Africa, herself in the advanced stages of AIDS.

In some ways, Nkosi may be Samuel's voice of reason, the one who keeps him grounded in his faith as he questions God's plan for him. Levelheaded, with a sense of humor, Nkosi helps Samuel deal with his disease as he helps her get ready to face her impending death. But Samuel even admits she is better at comforting him than he is her.

Whereas Nkosi knows Samuel must eventually embrace death, Samson refuses to acknowledge such a possibility. He is driven to save his brother's life, no matter what the cost to others. For him, this is a personal war with a God he no longer believes in but feels compelled to challenge for Samuel's life.

Orgy of Souls is a look into the deep recesses of a self-made hell where the human soul can fall when it's fed on blood, violence, sex, and madness. The question is, can a soul find its way back when consumed by darkness or is it compelled to remain lost forever?

No spoilers here. Suffice it to say, this book is poignant, even in its violence, and heart-wrenching in its tale of brotherly love that becomes twisted by the very nature of its intent.

Highly recommended.

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