On The Dark Divine

*Mild Spoilers (Visit Spoiler Ratings and Guidelines for ThinkyRead’s spoiler policy).

As I’ve mentioned before, I listen to a podcast called Writing Excuses. Now, I never mentioned that I listen to it regularly. That I’m obsessed with it. That, should the last episode air tomorrow, I would DIE! But that’s irrelevant.

(I promise I’m going somewhere with this…)

I was listening through some older episodes of Writing Excuses recently. I like to do that while I clean up around the apartment. And I came to the episode on Character Quirks with special guest star Bree Dispain. Bree is quite a prolific author in the YA world and on the podcast she described her trade with memorable words:

“I write paranormal romance, which is like horror, only with less blood and more kissing.”

Favorite quote ever.

Unfortunately paranormal romance has gotten a bad rep ever since the Twilight Fad. Of course there’s the possibility the genre was never any good and Twilight just amplified that. I think it’s more likely the one book that everyone knew as “paranormal romance” just happened to be a pretty sloppy book by a wishy-washy author. After that fiasco, the genre never really had a chance to shine in the 21,000 gigawatt public spotlight.

Bree’s participation in the Writing Excuses podcast and the particulars she mentioned about her main character intrigued me. I happened to be looking for a girly “chick lit” to read that weekend, so I loaded up my Kindle app and tapped the orange pixels reading “instant buy.”

Redemption

“Everyone deserves a second chance,” says the classic Sunday School proverb. But do they really?

What if “everyone” murdered someone, or stole another man’s wife? What if he’s a psychopath who tortures children for fun? Does he deserve a second chance then? Is there any way to give him one even if he does?

This book made me think a lot about the price of redemption. Daniel didn’t deserve a second chance. He was evil. Plain and simple. It wasn’t his fault he was born with such a fate, but he was. And the only reward for being evil is death.

But what about all the good he did? When Grace did offer him that second chance, even without physically changing Daniel’s evil nature, he was still a “good person.” He still rescued Baby James. He still cared for Grace. But, that can’t be! He’s evil! Isn’t he?

I love how the conflict between good and evil in this series runs far deeper than the surface predictions, addressing the idea of the good and evil that every human lives and struggles with day in and day out. One can act like a good person without being pure on the inside. Daniel was capable of everything Grace was, but he was still condemned to darkness because he carried with him a heart of darkness. Is it possible to truly be good without dying to ourselves and receiving grace?

Darkness and Sacrifice *Spoiler Warning*

There’s a Christian scripture that reads “There is no greater love than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friend.” But Bree takes the leap that there is a greater sacrifice. Dying is one thing. Knowingly condemning yourself to whatever version of hell you may or may not believe in to save the one you love? That falls into a completely different category.*Spoiler Warning End*

But some sacrifices are made in vain. Things grow dark and stupid accidents happen, like what BROTHER did to Grace in the parish, not even able to comprehend the consequences. Everything happens for a reason, doesn’t it? Even if nothing happens for a reason, the fact remains that everything happens. And at the end of the day, it’s time to pick ourselves up and soldier on. For the good of us. For the good of those we love. Life won’t always be puppy dogs and rainbows, but true love can never be taken away.

Christian Perspective

Though this book is told from the point of view of an 18 year old pastor’s daughter, I wouldn’t classify it as “Christian fiction.” Looking back, there is a surprising amount of Christian metaphor throughout the work and the character herself is true to her faith, even in the darkest of times. But it didn’t feel preachy in the least. In fact, reading through the series I sensed a depth that just isn’t found in a lot of pop fiction like Twilight.

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