My honest review of Lee Allen Howard’s “The Covenant Sacrifice”
A few months after tackling one of the things that creep me out about the modern world, it’s time to step up the challenge and face two other things that scare me off: religious fanaticism and insects*.
I know, I was pretty sure I’d never had the chance to put those two words in the same sentence of a blog post, but one of the best things about life is its unpredictability, usually mixed with the right touch of irony. The opportunity to challenge my own fears and at the same time to ramble with myself about low-chance events in my writing career was given to me, once again, by reading Lee Allen Howard’s The Covenant Sacrifice.
I haven’t been reviewing many books of lately (but this doesn’t mean I’m not reading), and I needed a spark to get back on track. A fresh start reading books with a critical eye, in the good meaning of the term. And The Covenant Sacrifice‘s blurb sounded promising enough. You see, as an agnostic who was raised a catholic I’ve always seen many aspect of religion as a form of fanaticism.
I know that it’s unfair to people who really believe and use their faith to be kind and do good: as I get older it’s easier for me to see that, like many other things in life, religion can be used as a purpose to do good or as a weapon. I remain agnostic, but I kind of see the point of someone who wants to believe there’s something else out there and it’s pushed to do good because of it. But the conflict I experienced in my early teen when religion was imposed on me because “it’s how it works around here” remains. Moreover, it’s way too common nowadays to see faith used as a tool to push a reactionary and hypocritical agenda, especially from people in a position of power.
And as I read page after page of The Covenant Sacrifice I couldn’t help but think how Uriah Zalmon is the perfect representative for this distorted use of faith. It was quite a surprise to see him as the person who was supposed to save the small community living in the middle of nowhere in rural Pennsylvania from the horrendous threat that loomed over their heads.
We’re used to see stories in which the roles of good and evil are defined and clear, but as much as the other side appeared worse, page after page it got harder and harder to see Zalmon as a hero, someone you wish to see triumphant. Is this the real good/evil dichotomy, or is there another way?
In the description of that remote corner of countryside I saw a “on steroids” version of the small village I grew up in, and many other church-centric small villages too: the same kind of close-minded faith, but exponentially bigger. A caricature of it, and it’s all made worse by how isolated and hard to leave it is.
Many of the aspects of the story were easy to guess even from the first few pages, but the way everything meshed together made the story work. It was an enjoyable and engaging read, and thanks to a few days of vacation at the beach I finished it in less than four day, cover to cover. As a bonus, the incredible heat I experienced in Northwestern Sardinia and the cicadas who sang non-stop at any time of the day made the immersion even deeper.
If that’s not the perfect Summer read, then I don’t know what else it is.
I’m not sure those creatures people are turned into are actually insects, given how uncomfortable insects make me I’ve chosen to picture them as huge bats in my head. But the way they’re generated seemed better associated with insects and it contributed to a few chills down my overheated spine.