“Ray is a Christian, but he loves a woman who follows a god called Zabir. Determined to save her from eternal damnation, he joins her church.
Ray doesn’t realize that indoctrination into the Zabian way is a process that not only breaks a man physically, it strips his identity and shatters his mind. He holds onto his faith at first, but as his prayers for mercy go unanswered, and the pain inflicted on him becomes too much to bear, the void of nothingness promises relief, and tempts Ray to do the unthinkable, even if leaves his soul as damned as the one he tried to save.” (Source: Goodreads)
Novellas are a convenient way to get your reading done in one sitting, and for that purpose I tend to enjoy them. Every now and then I come across ones that I feel would make a better novel though, and thus I feel cheated. Church by Renee Miller is one such novella. With its engrossing story line and completely defined cult, Church is a taste of something far greater – like sampling wine or beer at a restaurant, but not getting a full glass or bottle. What I mean by this is that Miller’s novella is a tease. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it leaves me wanting more and with a few too many questions.
The plot follows Ray’s attempt to save the love of his life by bringing her from the Zabian Cult to God. Ray’s meeting with Darius, head of the cult, is interesting and here we see just how far Miller defined the religious group, all the way down to the specifics of the commune. Naturally, Darius is going to want to convert Ray to his ways, and that entails much of the story.
It’s the ending that really drives me bonkers. Not because it’s bad, but because it feels rushed. It seems like too much time elapses too quickly to keep up with and as a result readers go from the middle of the story to the end at a speed that could use a little slowing. The good cult books are too few and far between, especially with zealous fanatics encompassing much of the horror genre. Miller’s rendition of this age old theme is too good to be so abrupt.
If you’re looking for a quick read that you can swallow in one sitting, Church is perfect. If you’re looking for something a bit more complete though, it doesn’t fit the bill. Needless to say, I do still look forward to more of this author’s work.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book for the purpose of an unbiased review.