Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Communion of the Saint by Alan David Justice

Title: The Communion of the Saint
Author: Alan David Justice
Price: $19.95, paperback
Genre: Historical/Paranormal
ISBN: 978-1-4303-1504-9, paperback
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu

A committee wants attention drawn to Saint Alban, detailing his life while expounding the miracles following his death. One woman, an experienced historian, meets the committee’s scrutiny. The moment she arrives in this small English town, an otherworldly voice directs her every move…

Dr. Clio Griffin is an acerbic woman who possesses no hope, more importantly, no faith in God; surviving a childhood of teasing about her multicultural background, while growing up with a schizophrenic mother. When a voice guides her around Saint Albans, Clio worries that her mother’s illness has taken hold. Ignoring the voice forces it to take form, first, leading her to an authentic fourth century brooch and then materializing before her. The entity hoped to calm her fears only to amplify them more.

“The Communion of the Saint” engages the reader with an interesting tale surrounding a saint long forgotten by the townspeople, and the Church. Tourism and complacency have taken its toll so the Communion wants Saint Alban resurrected to his deserved respectability. Mr. Justice casts the story with plenty of exciting characters, who help build this intriguing ghostly plot.

Meeting her new employer, members of The Communion of the Saint, does not go well. Clio’s initial encounter with several associates leads to preconceived hostilities before approving her hire. Helen Hardesty and Richard Sexton dislike her youthful American-Jamaican heritage, believing it hinders an appreciation of history. Retired Army Major Hewitt sees only Lady Phelps; still nurturing an unrequited love since their childhood. Joan Elspeth, Helen’s sister, is enthused with Clio’s presence, chastising her sister’s snobbery.

The founder and leader of this mercurial group, Lady Leslie Phelps is accustom to having her wishes obey; growing up poor she demands respect since marrying into wealth. Taking charge, she dispels some of the members’ reservations, including welding her authority over Clio, who politely maneuvers around the woman’s arrogant handling. Father Tom Dorcas, eyes and ears for Saint Albans’ Bishop, takes a more intimate interest in Clio, although romance is not the story’s focus.

A delightful change from this reviewer’s other reading haunts, “The Communion of the Saint” skillfully mixes history with present day. The flipping between eras is smooth, giving the story its paranormal essence while delivering an absorbing reading experience. The story’s most interesting elements are when St. Alban sends Clio back in time.

Through the touch of the brooch, transports her to a certain time where she physically experiences each event. First, Clio inhabits the body of the man who executes Alban, then witnesses situations that form Christianity’s evolution, while observing various miracles performed by martyrs in and around Saint Albans. All the while, she worries that her mother’s mental illness is plaguing her, escalating as she goes through each ethereal episode.

Clio’s disturbing authentic depictions, published through the local newspaper, fascinates though enlightens the community. Writing the articles is not all she deals with, becoming entrenched in long-standing petty jealousies, cultural prejudices and unwarranted whims of a wealthy benefactress. However, Clio also begins a self-discovery journey that opens her ears while filling her with hope, and just possibly renewing her faith in God.

Much of this compelling religious drama supports history, although the author has plainly taken artistic liberties in creating a suspenseful and engaging piece of fiction. Mr. Justice motivates the reader to discovering the “real” Saint Alban, even researching his namesake English town.


Reviewed by: In August of 2006, Pamela broke into book review writing with Erotic Escapades, but writes for The Erotic Bookworm, The Muse Book Reviews, Romance At Heart, and now POD People. Her own web site, Chewing the Bone exhibits book reviews in multilple genres, including children and young adult fiction. With all that she has going on Pamela finds time to dabble in flash-fic writing. Although, she doesn't aspire in becoming a published novelist, because it would take valuable time away from her first love... reading.

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