Ashton is a small town full of small-town people, the kind of place where life should be simple and neat. But to Hank Busche, the new young pastor of Ashton Community Church, the town is oppressed by a shadow, a growing suspicion and fear that is turning his congregation against him, and the townspeople against each other.
Marshall Hogan, former big-city journalist, now editor of the Ashton Clarion, sees the encroaching darkness from a different angle: as an insidious conspiracy infecting the town through a new, ruthless strain of corruption. As both Marshall and Hank struggle to fight the darkness descending on Ashton, they must come to terms with the truth behind the terror: ready or not, they are now locked in a deadly spiritual war.
I recently read this gripping novel for the second time, and was again shaken to my very core with conviction, encouragement, and a new awareness of the war raging around us every moment. Frank Peretti brings spiritual warfare to life on a frighteningly eye-opening scale, emphasizing the strength of the enemy, but also the strength of the saints and the heavenly power they wield through prayer, mighty to the pulling down of Satan's strongholds.
The story plays out like a mystery. Hank Busche fights discouragement, oppression, demonic attacks, and the attempts of corrupt townsfolk to oust him from the church. At the same time, Marshall slowly unravels the larger plot at work in conquering Ashton for evil. There is another dimension to the story, however, that takes it to the next level. Peretti shows the figures of the spiritual realm—from demon foes to the valiant warriors of the heavenly host—and it is this unique element that cuts to the heart of the role that we, as Christians, have to play in spiritual warfare.
Content Notes: very serious themes are addressed, including demon-possession, drugs, sexual temptation, witchcraft, and other grave sins as a result of the demonic presence in Ashton. The antagonists practice Eastern occultism and use it to their advantage; the results are some very distressing moments in which evil seems to reign, but heavenly warriors remind us Who is still in control. There is no profanity, even among worldly characters, which I thought was very tastefully done.
I cannot overstate the importance of this novel as a spiritual call to arms, but also as an absolutely and thrillingly epic read that may just change your life.
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