Most readers have a favorite genre or area of interest in the reading material selected, yet most look for something new, something different, that memorable one-of-a-kind book. Today I’ll introduce two such books. They have nothing in common with each other except for being well-written, thought provoking, and a step outside the norm. Oh, their authors also call the same town home.
THE HEALER by Gregg Luke
From biblical times there have been tales of a semi-mortal person who appears to rescue or heal others at critical times. Most cultures have adopted some version of the Apostle John story and adapted it to their own folklore. The Healer by Gregg Luke is this kind of story. There is no pretense that Chris Pendragon is John though there are similarities to the suppositions of many concerning the Apostle who was to tarry until the Savior’s return. Instead he is an ordinary man who on finishing school and his first-year professorship decides to treat himself to a vacation in Wales to rest and find himself. He finds far more than he bargained for.
Driving through the Welsh countryside Chris witnesses a terrible accident. In his frantic attempt to rescue a young child, an old man assists him by grabbing his ankles to help pull the child from a burning vehicle. Some power is transferred from the man to Chris giving him the power to heal. Later the old man approaches Chris in an attempt to explain that the mythical power of the Dial from Welsh folklore has been transferred to him, but Chris can’t believe anything so fantastic until he finds not only is the power real, but there are those who will stop at nothing, including murder, to take the power from him.
This is one of those fantastic stories the reader can’t put down. The characters are an interesting collection of people with widely varying traits and beliefs. It will draw in the skeptical as well as those who dote on the speculative. The author creates a realistic glimpse of modern Wales with lingering hints of its colorful past. It’s a book of choices; good versus evil, belief versus unbelief, tradition versus exploring something new, and choice versus destiny.
Gregg Luke is a pharmacist. Perhaps that is why he wrote this story of a man with a powerful ability to heal. Originally from California, he now lives in Logan, Utah. Five of his novels have been Whitney Award finalists.
GABRIEL’S DAUGHTER by Janet Kay Jensen
When a young, handsome teacher pays particular attention to sixteen-year-old Zina Martin, she believes she has found true love. Imagine her horror when she discovers her father has arranged a marriage for her to his friend, a middle aged man who already has four wives. When her lover accepts a job on the other side of the country and leaves without her before she can share the news she is pregnant, her world falls apart. The man she thought she loved never really loved her, but only used her. She won’t marry the man her father has chosen for her, a man she doesn’t love.
Staying in the small polygamous town she’s lived in all of her life isn’t an option. She runs away and is fortunate to be picked up by a long haul trucker and his wife on their way through Utah to Chicago. As she struggles to understand who she is and determine her own values she learns the “gentile world” is nothing like she has been taught by her family and leaders of the small religious community that had been her whole world prior to her leaving. Good and evil can exist anywhere. She misses her family and longs to reconnect with them beyond the postcard she has post marked from various cities that simply says she’s fine.
When an Internet search leads her to the first information she has had of her family in years, she faces her need to reconnect.
Trust and security issues play a major role in this novel. As do several modern hot button issues including race, homosexuality, polygamy, sexual predators, and homeopathic medicine. Jenson has a light touch and takes a more academic and philosophic approach than a dogmatic or moral one to these issues. With strong characterization, the author gives a picture of many pieces of America from a rural western community locked in the past with its joys, sorrows, and abuses, then a low to middle class, big city, black neighborhood, a sophisticated pent house and artistic life style offered in Minneapolis, a backwoods southern community straddling the line between the old and the new, to bits and pieces of Salt Lake City with its recognition of its changing demographics.
Janet Kay Jensen is a long-time educator who now lives in Logan, Utah, and in addition to being a full-time writer volunteers as a literary tutor.
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THE HEALER by Gregg Luke, Published by Covenant Communications, 253 pages, soft cover $16.99. Also available on CD and for e-readers.
GABRIEL’S DAUGHTERS by Janet Kay Jensen, published by Jolly Fish Press, 318 pages, soft cover $16.99 Also available for e-readers.