February 16, 2012

Rabid Reads: 'Guarding the Healer' by Gabriel Beyers


Guarding the Healer
published in 2011

When you delve into the horror genre you can find many a novel with a spotlight on the destroyers of the world, but how often do you find one that explores the healers? And I'm talking literally here, as the protagonist in Gabriel Beyers' debut novel is just that--a healer.

Silas Walker wants to be a good little Christian and when he discovers he's been blessed with the ability to heal, he gets his chance to really make a difference. The healing powers aren't something he can really control consciously though, like some kind of super power; it's more like he has become an instrument of God and the power flows through Silas. There's a malevolent force lurking in town, however, and has gone so far as to possess a troubled young man in order to torment and target Silas.

To me, it felt like this novel took a little while to find its footing. Silas' character was constructed well through the opening chapters and the conflicts he is faced with once he realizes he's been imbued with a healing force felt very convincing. That said, the opening chapters were surprisingly heavy with the supernatural. I expected the slow build with that stuff as the novel progressed, but from the get-go the angels and demons are given the spotlight. And for a while I wondered if the novel was going to be told predominantly through the eyes of Silas' guardian angel, Nassarius. In fact, as the novel progressed I found myself really wishing the story was told strictly from Silas' viewpoint rather than moments with the angel. That aspect of the novel felt a little too inside and kind of diminished some tension. It was the human factor of the novel I thought deserved a much bigger focus, even though it was already the dominant storyline. I thought the introduction of Tommy, a drifter with a past that winds up aiding Silas, was especially helpful in caring the humanity of the story.

While I didn't care for the novel a whole lot, I do have to say that Gabriel did a real good job in presenting his characters through the whole of the novel. Nothing felt forced or artificial, and even though there were some lulls that could have been put on the chopping block, each character definitely shone through. It's a novel that is okay, bordering on very good, but just fell short for me and didn't hold my interest in many spots. It's worth giving a chance if you like tales of supernatural forces infringing on the mundane, particularly if you're into the whole demons versus angels thing, but for me it wasn't quite enough.

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