Robin Parrish is one of the most imaginative writers I know, particularly within the constraints of Christian fiction. From his Dominion Trilogy to "Offworld", he has shown an uncanny ability to make the unbelievable seem realistic, using tight prose and taut action scenes to speed readers toward often surprising endings. Never, though, have I been as unsure of his story's direction as in "Nightmare."
On the surface, this is a ghost story along the lines of the films "White Noise" and "The Haunting in Connecticut." Maia Peters is a college student with famous parents. Mr. and Mrs. Peters have a worldwide audience with their TV show that explores the paranormal, eschewing the hokey orbs and cheap thrills of typical ghost-hunters, going for more scientific and logical explorations of the unknown. Maia's celebrity status draws the interest of another student, rich and orphaned Jordin Cole. With Jordin's money and Maia's connections, they make a trek of well-known haunted sites in America, from Alcatraz to Gettysburg. They have some disturbing encounters, told with bravado and with cards held close to the chest by Mr. Parrish. I kept wondering where this story was going, and Jordin's motives remained mysterious for much of it.
In the second half, Parrish provides more biblical ground and, ultimately, delivers a heart-pumping showdown between good and evil. He doesn't try to explain everything, which I appreciated. On the other hand, I would've liked a little more background on the power behind a certain glyph and cube. That said, Parrish offers up some unique and thought-provoking ideas here, all of which point to the true Author of Life while encouraging readers to live their lives to the fullest. His characters are flawed and intriguing, and the first-person narrative moves quickly. The rock group, The Killers, has a song that says, "I've got a soul, but I'm not a 'souldier'," and this story provides a twist to those lyrics.
Once again, Robin Parrish proves he belongs in the ranks with Frank Peretti and Mike Dellosso, telling a creepy story with a powerful underlying purpose.