Author: Bryan Davis
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Oculus Gate #3
Release Date: April 10, 2022
The souls of Leo and Iona are trapped in hell, their bodies inhabited by the souls of Alex and her henchman Bartholomew. Now disguised as Iona, Alex launches her centuries-old plan to restore her power and take control of both Earth and Viridi.
Unable to communicate with their allies, the real Leo and Iona embark on a journey, hoping to somehow break through hell’s impenetrable gates. Along the way, they meet a strange woman, a Reaper who believes she can help them escape.
On Earth, Ben Garrison and company begin to suspect that Leo and Iona are not who they seem, and their souls might still be in hell. Aware of their suspicions, Alex, in Iona’s body, escapes them to pursue her world-takeover plans.
As Leo and Iona face the dangers of a beast-infested forest, a lava-filled chasm, and the nightmarish Lake of Fire, Ben tries to figure out a way to help them from Earth. Only one option presents itself—to return to hell and face the dangers himself.
Reviewer: Timothy McKay
I read and loved Bryan Davis's Dragons in Our Midst series when I was in high school, so I leaped at the chance to review his newest action rollercoaster. And it was definitely a wild (albeit enjoyable) ride, especially since I hadn't read the first two Oculus Gate books yet. That's an omission I intend to rectify, though it wasn't necessary to enjoy this third installment.
I will say that reading the previous two books would have better prepared me for just how much is going on in this book. Brace yourself for some mild disorientation. This book jumps from space alien giants to magical wards, malicious vaccines, soul-absorbing cloaks, witchcraft, lie-detecting mirrors, and magical violins. All packed within an action-heavy plot full of intrigue, firefights, and spaceship chases. As I said, a lot is going on.
What My Soul to Take does well is make you invested. There are more than a few beautiful moments of faith, redemption, and healing, even from the depths of hell (without sacrificing sound theology). And I particularly enjoyed the sibling banter of Jack and Trudy, plus a few sarcastic quips from Iona - their comedic edge helped balance out some of the book's heavier moments.
The dialogue was sometimes forced and mechanical, and some of the characters' plots, schemes, and plans are hard to believe. A few key characters see through the deception of their enemies far too quickly early in the book, a scheme that could have been drawn out for effect (I think).
My Soul to Take leaves you hanging. Without spoilers, very late in the book, we learn of Satan's role in Alex's diabolical schemes and witness characters struggling with the justice and theological implications of eternal damnation in hell. The action then moves the characters into position for some final chases, fights, and confrontations but abruptly stops. It's jarring, but those bigger revelations make me really want to know what happens next. I'd almost rather have had the next book(s) and this one released all at once, but I suppose that's how we always feel before the last chapter of a thrilling series is released. I like long books, but if you're looking for a quick, action-packed science fiction read, and if you can handle anticipation for a story's resolution better than I can, this is the book for you. Enjoy!
I received a review copy courtesy of Mountain Brook Ink through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
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