Sunday, August 22, 2010

Does "Nightmare" Belong in the CBA?

On Friday I reviewed Nightmare by Robin Parrish. As a paranormal suspense novel, close to a horror novel, this book has received some interesting reviews. None of the reviews I've seen have said that it is a bad story. They all acknowledge Robin as a good suspense author.

However, a few reviews I've seen (on, a couple during the CFBA tour) turn negative when they talk about the spiritual aspects of the book. Obviously Nightmare takes on a topic that may seem to go against some people's theology. To this I say, make sure you read the book all the way through, and read it carefully. It is a work of speculative fiction - as in "speculate." He is not saying a definitive position on the topic, he came up with a suspenseful story idea and worked on it. If you expect a treatise on spiritual warfare you'll be disappointed.

Spoilers Ahead!

Robin never denies or totally affirms the paranormal in the book. He writes an author note at the back of the book saying he believes closer to a Christian character in the book, and warns people that he does not believe dabbling in the paranormal is a good idea at all. The plot hinges around a machine that is able to remove a person's soul from their body. There is a large McGuffin plot device that pops up at this time to explain this. The people are able to be reconnected soul to body at the end.

End Spoilers

I've had some bad experience with things like Dungeons and Dragons in the past. I believe that Christians shouldn't dabble in every possible form of evil or paranormal. This is a whole different ball game to me. I don't believe he is trying to glamorize anything, but to use a plot point to tell a story. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but Robin makes sure at the end to remind people it is just a story to make people think - not to sermonize on ghosts or glorify any kind of evil. At least in my opinion.

So is there a place in CBA fiction for a book like Nightmare? The answer is: it depends who you ask!

Nightmare is going to trip up some people who think that CBA fiction means uplifting, theologically correct books that are squeaky clean in the orthodoxy department. Thus the negative reviews. There is another segment of readers who are more open to fiction that has a little more ambiguity, without things fully nailed to a theological premise. People who read science fiction or fantasy should have no problem in general. I would like to see a CBA industry that has room for authors like Robin Parrish or Eric Wilson. However, in my opinion there is enough resistance to writers like them at this time that they may need to pursue other options in publishing.



  1. Robin's work is always well done. For me, they never make me ask "What if?". But that's just me. I'm secure in my doctrine and I know man has created many denominations. A place in CBA? Why not? Let's be honest, the popularity of Amish/Mennonite/Shaker bonnet books proves that doctrinal issues don't mirror biblical truth. So if in the "speculative" genre, an author chooses to do just that--speculate--why not?

    There will always be those who object loudly and strongly to ANYthing which doesn't mesh with their doctrines or even with their reading tastes. It's probably wise for them to eliminate speculative fiction from their reading selections.

    Since Robin continues to get published in CBA, I don't know that he "needs" to seek ABA outlets. Both he and Eric have CBA fans--just maybe not enough, huh?

  2. I read this book even though I normally don't read ANYTHING related to the paranormal. If I would've judged this book by its cover, it would have been my loss. The back of the book plainly states that it is FICTION and SUSPENSE. You can read my take on it at my site, if you'd like.

    I would say that if The Shack (which by some is considered to be a highly blasphemous book) is included in the CBA - then there is definitely room for Robin!

    This book was written to make people think and hopefully start up conversation. I believe it will do just that!