Trial & Tribulations

Trial & TribulationsTrial & Tribulations by Rachel Dylan
Series: Windy Ridge Legal Thriller
Genres: Spiritual Warfare
Published by NYLA on November 17, 2015
Pages: 326

 

About Trial & Tribulations (from the back cover):
When Washington, D.C. lawyer, Olivia Murray, is assigned to defend a case in Chicago involving two New Age companies, things heat up fast.  Even while she is trying to decide if her Christian beliefs can allow her to accept the case or if she is willing to risk losing her job by saying no to her boss, the intensity begins, convincing her that the forces of evil are at work.  Grant Baxter, the prosecuting attorney, is not a believer in God or anything else spiritual, and he feels that Olivia’s concerns are unfounded and silly…until unexplainable things start happening to him, too.  What these demons had not counted on was the strength and experience Olivia brings to the battle.  Will the quarreling companies, led by those who have committed themselves to the Evil One, get the victories they hope for in the community, defeating Olivia and Grant in the process?  Or will the lawyers, along with help from Windy Ridge Community Church, be able to defeat the demons that threaten them? 

 

I will readily admit, this book was way out of my comfort zone.  Not only was it my first by this author, it was also my first dealing with spiritual warfare.  The reality of demons and Satan has never been in question in my mind; however, the methods that they employ certainly are in question hereMs. Dylan takes the position that demonic forces physically and literally attack people every day, believers and non-believers alike.  I am not sure if that is actually her belief, or if she just used these obvious tactics in order to make the book seem exciting or interesting.  In either case, I believe she is treading on dangerous ground.  According to Scripture, Satan and his demons cannot touch a Christian without God’s special permission, and never can a demon possess a follower of Christ (consider the life of Job).  Once we are filled with the Holy Spirit, there is no place for Satan’s minions, and their power does not begin to compare with that of God’s.  This story repeatedly portrays angels fighting demons, to the exclusion of God in any of the scenes.

Ms. Dylan takes the position that demonic forces physically and literally attack people every day, believers and non-believers alike.

The actual plot, involving the relationship between Olivia and Grant and the allegations involving current technology of the two New Age companies was very interesting and would have had enough merit to hold my attention.  The legal scenes and explanations were clearly written in great detail, causing me to wonder if Ms. Dylan has a background in law.  I enjoyed this aspect of the novel immensely.  The scenes involving demons and Satan worship, I could have done without.

I believe the author is treading on dangerous ground in this book.

I realize that the main point of the book was to show how real spiritual warfare is.  I understand and believe that, too.  But the way that this was presented seemed more like science fiction than reality to me.

The actual plot, involving the relationship between Olivia and Grant and the allegations involving current technology of the two New Age companies was very interesting and would have had enough merit to hold my attention.

While Olivia’s character holds promise, she is never really developed after the first two or three chapters.  I was left wanting more out of her: more growth, more leadership, more something.  Grant’s character did make a profound change, and watching that journey was a delight. The other characters were sometimes predictable, sometimes startling in their actions and reactions.  There were many brief moments of excellent writing, but I often was left wondering why certain things happened the way that they did.  Maybe that is still part of the story to come.

My overall impression was that I enjoyed the story, and I really am eager to know what happens in the next volume of this three-part series.  However, I probably won’t read the last two novels, as I expect that the spiritual warfare will overshadow any merits to the books.

–Stephanie


I have to confess this wasn’t my favorite book.  I went into it expecting something like Peretti or Dekker might write but with a woman’s touch and a dash of legal thriller thrown in.  Instead, the legal parts weren’t all that thrilling (though thanks to Ms. Dylan’s expertise they were very well-written), and the supernatural elements often strayed into the illogical and farfetched.

With that said, I must also add that I strongly believe in the existence of spiritual warfare and the dangers of dabbling in the New Age movement and the occult.  In fact, I grew up not too far from where this novel is set and it is very reasonable indeed to assume that demonic activity and worship of “the evil one” is present there.  At least it was in my town, and I say that from a denominational background that doesn’t focus a lot on the supernatural apart from God.

 I went into it expecting something like Peretti or Dekker might write but with a woman’s touch and a dash of legal thriller thrown in.

However, a lot of things about the spiritual warfare depicted in Trial and Tribulations just didn’t ring true to me.  Even the most devout followers of the New Age groups called Satan “the evil one” – very matter of factly – and maybe I’ve just read too much Harry Potter but I would have expected a little more awe from his main henchmen at least.  Along those lines, when people were being spiritually attacked (violently so), the aftermath lacked the kind of emotional reaction I would expect to see.  Also, one of the characters is a human being but apparently can become a demon and attack people when she wants to? (To be fair, that wasn’t explicitly stated but was implied by a series of events.) I just couldn’t get on board with the believability factor of a lot of it.

Besides what I’ve already mentioned, the main flaw I noticed was the author’s tendency to retell what’s already been covered.  For instance, in one case, she does a great job of describing through narrative a demonic attack on one of the characters.  Then, instead of summing up key points and moving the story along, the character recounts the experience nearly verbatim when talking to two of the other people in the book.  This happened on more than one occasion and became a noticeable pattern throughout my reading of this novel.

In spite of the things that detracted from my enjoyment of Trial and Tribulations, something about it kept me engaged enough to want to know how it would all resolve.

In spite of the things that detracted from my enjoyment of Trial and Tribulations, something about it kept me engaged enough to want to know how it would all resolve.  The Bible tells us that God has set eternity in the hearts of men (and women), and I think part of that means we all want good to triumph over evil.  It’s woven into the framework of our soul. This kind of story tugs at that inmost desire, and I just had to stick it out to the finish.  Speaking of the finish, there’s a humdinger of a plot twist in there that I did not see coming! I will be very interested to see how that plays out in future books in the series.

–Carrie

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