Rachel Turner and her son, Evan, are found brutally murdered. Her husband, Danny, is found dead in his car at the bottom of a ravine. The town of Akron, Ohio is shocked that such a devastating event could happen in their otherwise peaceful burg. Rachel’s best friend, Carolyn Bianci is thrown into a bout of depression and a crisis of faith, but her husband, Mitchell, a devout man, is determined to discover what really happened in the Turner house that fateful night. Just as he is almost at the end of his faith, Joanna Larson, a woman with amazing spiritual gifts and an insight into the souls of others, living and dead, appears with a message to help Carolyn and Mitchell understand what happened, why it happened, and how their faith can help them through their crisis.
Ravine: Evil, Hope, and the Afterlife by Robert Pasculli is an overtly religious novel, but one doesn’t have to be Christian, or even particularly religious, to grasp the underlying message – hope and faith are the only way to overcome evil, and the capacity to forgive—even one’s own shortcomings—is the key.
I usually find religious-themed stories too heavily laden with piety and overly-hopeful homilies, but Pasculli, even though he does stress the religious aspect, does not really preach. He shows, through the actions and words of the characters primarily, how people can cope with the evil that often inhabits our world alongside the good, and it’s up to us to shun the evil, while seeking the good.
I found myself identifying with the main character, and captivated by Joanna, even though she was almost a Deus ex Machina in the way she shows up just when she was needed to resolve a troubling situation.
I give it three and a half stars.