The story begins with a haunting and a vision. Ever since accepting the position at Canyon Springs Community Church, Clark has been visited by a ghost in his office. The translucent figure of a young man hovers near the end of a bookcase but says nothing. Clark, whose faith and ministry are in steep decline, has taken to ignoring the apparition until it goes away, a metaphor for Clark's approach to his life's problems. He intends to resign in days and leave the ministry behind. The vision appears to Ruby on a Sunday morning during her weekly prayer meeting with her two friends. Duran describes her vision with precise and engaging details.
It was stark in its simplicity: an immense gray tree with barren, arthritic limbs tilted on a high hill. Behind it stretched an unending curtain of crimson sky.... The tree towered over her, its skeletal limbs like a vast umbrella speckled with blackbirds.... As she studied it, her thoughts went to a single leaf blooming on a craggy bough, bright and green like newly sprung grass (p. 4).
The tree is an ancient, dead oak in an abandoned cemetery at the top of a high bluff overlooking the ocean and the town of Stonetree. That evening, Ruby attends the funeral of a co-worker's child. Ruby touches the body when filing past with the other mourners and to everyone's shock, the boy sits up in his casket, alive and disoriented. It appears that a genuine miracle has occurred.
Some hail Ruby as a saint and healer. A long line of the sick and desperate come to her home for help, and despite her husband's advice to ignore them, Ruby cannot turn them away although her efforts to perform another miracle fail. Other elements in the community have a different take on Ruby's miracle. Some are skeptical that anything really miraculous has happened. One of the church elders argues that God doesn't speak through housewives. The elders of Ruby's church vote to downplay the incident. Clark acquiesces to the chairman's strong-arm tactics, but he believes something has happened and whatever it is has challenged his beliefs and interrupted his plans to flee the ministry. Another element in the town, centered in a row of shops in the town square that sell occult paraphernalia, is fearful. The morning after the miracle, Ruby and her husband discover a strange figurine made of plant and animal parts in their front yard with a cryptic message inside.
The plot of The Resurrection is complicated. Working in parallel and later together, Ruby and Clark delve into the history of the town of Stonetree and the curse which casts a shadow over the region. Clark and Ruby come face-to-face with evil and Clark barely escapes a sacrificial altar. I will not try to summarize the events and discoveries here. I won't do the story justice and I don't want to spoil your fun if you have not read the novel. It's a cliche to say that "you feel like you're there" when reading a book, but that compliment is especially applicable to Duran's writing. He builds up his characters and their environment with telling details. As a tree-lover, I am particularly impressed with the range of trees that Duran mentions.
Duran populates his story with a wide array of fascinating and well-drawn characters in addition to Ruby and Clark. Tomorrow, I'll discuss some of the major characters.
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of The Resurrection from the publisher.
To read more about Mike Duran and his writing, visit his web site at http://mikeduran.com/.
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