This month the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring Eric Wilson’s vampire novel, Haunt of Jackals (Thomas Nelson), the second book in the Jerusalem Undead Trilogy. A number of tour participants have weighed in on the religious elements including Rachel Starr Thomson, Keanan Brand, and Fred Warren. Interestingly, Rachel focused her thoughts on the absence of Christ. Fred concentrated on the use of blood—Judas’s and Jesus’s. And Keanan saw the story as a mixed bag. Yes, God was missing:
But where’s God in all this evil and darkness? Aside from a glance or two toward prayer, and several mentions of the Nazarene and His blood, God doesn’t seem to be a major player in the story. I understand Wilson not wanting to bludgeon his readers with a sermon or excessive scripture, but the Collectors seem to have more faith in God as their enemy than the humans have faith in God as their friend.
But he also asks “How can the light be seen unless there is darkness? What is a candle in the sunlight?”
The place of God in speculative fiction seems central if an author claims his work is Christian or informed by the Christian worldview. From my perspective, how much God shows up determines how dark a work of fiction is.
Some people think of darkness as a result of letting sin be sin. If a novel shows demonic activity or sexual exploits outside marriage or the use and abuse of children, this is considered dark. And it is. But if that darkness goes unanswered, then it overwhelms. Hence the need for God to be present.
As far as I’m concerned, a novel can address sin of any kind as long as some credible character acknowledges it is sin and God is God.
In Haunt of Jackals God seems very real to the vampire characters known as Collectors. They think Him foolish and His ways ineffective. They clearly hate Him. But the characters who are part of Those Who Resist seem more attached to god stuff than to God. Consequently, He feels absent through most of the book, and the result is a work that seems to be dark with glimpses of light here and there.
But even those glimpses of light seem specialized and therefore unattainable to real people. Salvation, for example, comes to characters when they drink a drop of the Nazarene’s blood contained in vials attached to a pair of earrings. What does that say to a reader who has no vial of blood? I suggest it implies that salvation is a fictitious construct not attainable to real people.
I know from reading interviews with Eric and comments on his Web site that he intends to use his fiction as a missionary endeavor. Is that possible when light seems so unimportant to the characters combating darkness? Honestly, unlike Vanish by Tom Pawlik, Haunt of Jackals has done nothing to convince me that Christian horror is a viable genre.
Take time to see what others on the tour are saying: Brandon Barr Wayne Thomas Batson Jennifer Bogart Justin Boyer Keanan Brand Amy Browning Karri Compton Amy Cruson CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Beth Goddard Todd Michael Greene Timothy Hicks Becky Jesse Cris Jesse Julie Carol Keen Dawn King Melissa Lockcuff Rebecca LuElla Miller Mirtika Nissa John W. Otte James Somers Rachel Starr Thomson Robert Treskillard Steve Trower Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler Jill Williamson KM Wilsher