When the opportunity to review this book as part of a dedicated blog tour came from Tyndale House Publishers, I was somewhat at first skeptical about reading and reviewing it.
I have never been a fan of werewolves and vampires (though I liked Chewbacca (who isn’t one) and was (and still am) a fan of the original Dark Shadows. (I cannot believe that Jonathan Frid is still alive! Wonderful! He is the original Barnabas Collins. What a name for a vampire, Barnabas. What would St Paul think?)
I watched the original Dracula in college as part of a film class as well as Frankenstein. Bela Lugosi was legendary in his performance. (And I will be leave the puns off this review, like “the critics were ‘bitten’ by his performance.”)
When I think AMC I think Mad Men (and I am anxiously awaiting its return) and not The Walking Dead. And The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde scared me to death. (Though I think that Robert Louis Stevenson would enjoy Matt’s book.)
And Zombies? No.thanks!
But I went ahead and requested the book and I am glad I did. At first, it was hard to follow the story line because I had trouble understanding the symbolism of the main characters, and characters they are, as the story unfolded.
But Matt Mikalatos has done us a big favor. He has depicted the brokenness of humanity in a refreshing way that younger generations who are enthralled with Twilight will understand…
…namely, that there is a monster within all of us that has, can, and does destroy people and their vital relationships.
As the hapless, okay, well almost hapless, side kick and neighbor to a werewolf, Luther Martin, Matt takes us on a journey both inward and nearby as we truly go behind close doors, secret doors, secret hideouts (a Toyota? My goodness Matt why not a Pacer?), and almost secret secret laboratories right next door, across the street, and downtown (if you live in a place that has a business district sometimes called Main Street) to look into the lives of people we are with, or nearby, nearly every day, our neighbors, fellow church goers, and family.
Seriously, it is not a pretty picture at times. For the werewolf gives into a base nature that causes his family much pain and the lonely vampire, who still struggles with her past, is always looking over her shoulder to see if someone is still after her. But in the midst of such pain and sadness, Matt, with candor and appropriate wit, develops the case for a faith in God that can, and does help Luther to start stopping his werewolf episodes. However Matt, again with candor and caring honesty, reminds us that it is not always a happy ending as Martin’s marriage falls apart before he asks God into his life.
Written in 28 fast paced chapters that includes first person narrative accounts, (given by Matt), and several back story chapters of Luther and some others, the reader gains a glimpse of the inner lives of people that we often overlook quite frankly, in our own zombie state of being. And this is where I think that Matt does us a second big favor. He gives us a glimpse into the contemporary American evangelical church and challenges us to move beyond a heartless faith and embrace one in which we love Jesus not with just our brains but our heart and soul. And he shows us, in an imperfect and halting way, what a mere friendship with those who struggle can do, if we stick with them. We need to embrace a discipleship that is not a continuous soul ‘numbing’ “fill-in-the-blank and read Rev. So and So’s books” discipleship. But a discipleship that requires us to tell safe others of our own ‘monsters’ that are threatening to destroy us.
On my very unscientific rating scale, I give this book my first ever 4.5 It is a ‘good’ (the 4.0 part) book with ‘great’ (the 5.0 part) elements. (And I encourage new readers to refer to the section “Are You a Monster?” at the back of the book as you read. It will be a helpful guide to navigating the rich allegory of this book that essential for understanding it.)
Now, if this review has whetted your appetite to go out and howl at the moon and eat something raw.
However, if it has whetted your appetite to read this book, then, if you are the first to reply to this post, I will send you a certificate for a free copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian. (No operators are standing by, sorry.)
If you would also like to hear more from Matt about the book then enjoy this video by clicking on the link.
Also get to know Matt at his website http://mattmikalatos.com/
And for information about Tyndale Publishing go to http://www.tyndale.com
Thanks Matt for this book!
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian in exchange for a review of it. I was not required to write a positive review.