Foreword Reviews

Engaging the Sons of Darkness

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

Engaging the Sons of Darkness is an exciting end-of-the-world thriller with strong Christian themes and sensibilities.

Barbara Smitherman’s Engaging the Sons of Darkness is a gripping Christian thriller in which the battle for humanity is set in America’s heartland.

In Evansville, an Oklahoma town that is failing beneath a terrible economy and an invasion of assorted evils, prayer seems to have dried up; the people have given up hope. It becomes the setting for a battle between heaven and hell that could have cataclysmic implications.

Pastor Phillip arrives in Evansville fresh from seminary, called to plant a new church in the failing town. He’s aided by a heavenly host of angels led by the archangel Michael; they also must stop a fiendish plot to destroy the world using a specially brewed, deadly alcohol. Together, the pair battle the forces of evil—Phillip with his love and prayer, Michael with his flaming white sword. Set against them are an army of imps and fallen angels led by the demon Belial.

Phillip’s family also meets and confronts some of the local powers that be while finding new friends and neighbors and remembering to live well and faithfully. Phillip’s struggles with his calling are compellingly drawn, particularly as he begins to doubt his faith. Secondary characters have some depth but fall into stereotypes: there’s the predictable faithful poor black woman, Mamie; the crooked sheriff, Hank; and Cherish, who may be down on her luck but who has a heart of gold.

Strongest in its depiction of evil as banal, the book describes even companies of demons in approachable ways. There’s a demon of doubt, a demon of fear, and the almost impossible to eradicate demon of sickness. Treating evil in this faceless, collective way is effective.

Using everyday language, the book places its evil in recognizable settings like depressing corporate offices, complete with reports, headquarters, and the unease of bringing issues up to superiors. Hell’s evil minions are effectively faceless; they are sometimes cunning, occasionally inept, and work for a nameless company. The evil here feels real-world.

Clichés and inconsistencies are distracting facets of the text. Mamie’s dialogue, in particular, is stereotypical and inauthentic. The book struggles with pacing issues, frequently losing sight of the main characters and of Phillip’s development as a pastor.

After a roughly paced and unevenly focused beginning, the story finds its concrete focus, with Micheal uncovering Belial’s plot; then, the book becomes a thriller. Its vivid battle descriptions are enjoyable to read.

Engaging the Sons of Darkness is an exciting end-of-the-world thriller with strong Christian themes and sensibilities.

Reviewed by Jeremiah Rood

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Load Next Review