I must confess, after hearing so much about this book on various news websites that I frequent, and catching the first chapter at a book signing I participated in some time back (it was on the shelf, and no one was stopping by my table), I was quite excited to finally get my hands on a copy of The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn.
Now that I've had a chance to read it, I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I found the concept behind the novel intriguing--this notion that the leaders of the United States have brought down judgment upon us all by their defiance of God's chastisement. Certainly the idea that 9-11 was allowed to happen to us for our sins is not new, and Jonathan Cahn does a great job in laying out the ways in which America has been paralleling the attitudes and even the actions of the ancient Israelites in their response to the assault of the Assyrians. On this count alone, the book is worth reading.
On the other hand, however, this book represents to me the worst kind of Christian fiction, because it isn't really a novel. It's more akin to a parable. The story is preachy. The narrative lacks any distinctive style. The characters lack development or depth (or even a description!). The book reveals nothing about the human condition, other than the interpretation of recent events in light of scripture. In many ways, it is the antithesis of what I personally believe Christian fiction should represent - ie: the best in story-telling.
I have no objection to communicating a biblical message of one kind or another in the midst of a novel, but it cannot come at the expense of the essential elements of a story: setting, characterization, plot, description, conflict, etc., and I think The Harbinger fails on this account.
A better example of a Christian message encapsulated in a novel, in my opinion, is C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength, or even the first two books of the Space Trilogy. I pick out the third book because a) it is my favorite, and b) because in this book, a deeply theological and cultural critique is offered, but none of it at the expense of the story. To me, this is what Christian writers ought to aspire to.
And yet for all that, I still enjoyed The Harbinger, found it's message interesting, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a friend. But just not as a great novel.
Linda Apple is the author of Writing From Your Soul, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter, Connect ~ A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, POW; Promises Kept and Women Of Washington Avenue, her debut novel and the first book in her Moonlight Mississippi series. Her personal experience stories have been published in 16 of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotions have been published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She lives in Fayetteville Arkansas with her husband, Neal, their five children, five children-in-love, and ten grandchildren.
Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction from west Texas. Her debut novel, Washout Express, released June 2013 from Harbourlight Books. Her short stories, poems, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Mature Living, Splickety Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Christiandevotions.us, She is a two time Grand Prize Winner at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference, and a Faithwriters.com Best of the Best award winner. She and her pastor husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Dee Harper writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by way of Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alaska (again). Deb is a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild classes and writes Christian humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, available in both e-book and print, is being re-published as six individual print books. Her Road’s End series (Misstep, Faux Pas, and Misjudge) for adults is also contracted and should be published soon. She is currently nearing completion on the first book of another series. She is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning multi-published inspirational novelist, blogger, reviewer, and writing mentor. A freelance editor, Lisa loves all things historical. Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and Christian Fiction Online.
Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador, where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence, Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry has appeared in leading journals and is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond.His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File, and a historical romance, Lightning on a Quiet Night. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives with her husband in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her fiction books include Give the Lady a Ride, The Simulacrum, and The Cat Lady's Secret. Her nonfiction books include Writing in Obedience, co-written with Hartline Literary agent Terry Burns.
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