For my survey of the characters, I'll begin with the creepiest and work my way up.
Mr. Cellophane--Clark's name for him--is the "thing" that haunts Clark's church office, hovering in a corner at the end of a bookcase. It's never clear exactly what Mr. Cellophane is: ghost, disembodied spirit, demon, or something else. In a short essay at the end of the novel, Duran discusses the various possibilities and their theological implications but never answers the question. "What I am advocating," Duran writes, "is a world view that tolerates (at least in a 'fictional' sense) a being that defies neat categorization" (p. 300). Duran's description of Mr. Cellophane is rich and memorable.
The specter ... watched him with sallow eyes. An opaque, gauzy sheath seemed to cloak the presence. Pale organs throbbed beneath its translucent skin. It appeared to be a young man, or the remnants of one, caught between worlds (p. 1).Mr. Cellophane is one of Clark's many secrets, issues that he would like to ignore. Clark fears the specter will one day materialize during a meeting with a parishioner or, worse yet, the elders. Mr. Cellophane appears to Ruby when she meets with Clark to discuss the resurrection and communicates with her. Later, we learn that the apparition is connected with the gifts that Professor Keen has been sending to Clark. Later in the story, Mr. Cellophane turns up and performs some pyrotechnics at an opportune moment for Clark's well-being.
Weighing in at number two on the creepy scale is Professor Benjamin Keen who once taught at Clark's seminary but was forced to resign for his heretical beliefs. Keen has since become an anthropologist, focusing on religion, and has recently published a book titled The Myth of Religion. Keen lives on an isolated ranch decorated with ritual masks gathered during his travels. He also keeps a manservant named Mr. O and a squawking parrot named Jade. Keen is a proponent of syncretism and heads a coterie of like-minded intellectuals into which Keen is anxious to introduce Clark. Keen frequently refers to Clark as the "Wandering Soul," an epitaph which Clark later learns to his horror has a very specific meaning. When Clark attends the meeting of the syncretism group, Keen shows him a room dedicated to the pantheons of various pagan religions. A stone altar rests on a dais at the room's center and an obsidian dagger is on display. On closer inspection, Clark realizes that the altar is not decorative. It has been used.
A number of minor creepy characters also warrant mention. In Purple Maze, one of the downtown occult shops, Ruby and her prayer group friends encounter Gwen, the store's owner. The store occupies the land on which White Creek Chapel once stood. Gwen is plump with pomegranate-dyed hair and green fingernails shaped to points. She keeps a massive iguana as a pet and considers herself a witch although her incantations have no effect on Ruby and friends. Gwen also hates Christians. Coy Barkham, a wealthy businessman whose roots in the community go back multiple generations, is the head of the board of elders at Canyon Springs Community Church. He is intimidating physically with a forceful personality to match. The elders bend to his will. Barkham's grandfather profited from the fire that destroyed White Creek Chapel, which occupied prime real estate and therefore stood in the way of commercial development. Clark's historical research uncovers Barkham's business connections but he is unprepared for the depth of Barkham's greed and duplicity. Mace Wilflee is a reporter for the Rippington Weekly, a tabloid that wants a piece of Ruby's story. Wilflee is sleazy and annoying and above all, relentless in his pursuit of some kind of story. Duran's description says it all.
[Wilflee] wore wraparound sunglasses, the kind that looked very cool or very trendy, depending on one's hipster IQ. His hair was short and spiky with bleached ends; his polyester shirt was unbuttoned enough to expose a tanned chest draped with excessive jewelry (p. 122).Ian Clark and Ruby Case serve as the protagonists for The Resurrection and everything is seen through their perspectives. The events transform both of them. Clark moves past the tragedies of his past, regains his purpose and passion for life, and surprises the villains with his new found will to fight for his beliefs. Ruby, who has suffered all her life from a bad hip which causes her to limp, finds her faith reinvigorated. Never one to put herself forward, she accepts leadership when it is thrust upon her and appears willing to make whatever sacrifice necessary for the good of the community.
In his science fiction trilogy, C. S. Lewis describes a universe in which spiritual forces of good and evil are battling over control of Earth, known as the silent planet because the forces of evil occupy it. The fight has been raging for ages with humans wittingly or unwittingly choosing sides. Duran's story presents a similar worldview. Greed leads such characters as Barkham to drift toward the dark side while power appears the chief motivator for Keen. Complacency, as typified by Clark early in the novel, allows those such as Barkham and Keen to operate unchallenged.
If you're looking for a page-turner that will also challenge your concept of the spiritual world, find yourself a copy of The Resurrection.
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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