Every year, my family and I venture out to our rented cottage for a week of some relaxation and fun. It’s also the week that I have available to actually read a novel. For me, it’s a nice break from the madness in society and in the Church.
This year, I chose to read a novel by a local writer and journalist, Deborah Gyapong (pronounced ”japong”). Deborah writes for a few Catholic publications like The Catholic Register and other Christian publications. She’s even a convert from the CBC religion, having spent more than 25 years in TV, print and radio, including 12 years as a producer for the CBC’snews and current affairs programming.
The novel in question is called The Defilers. In 2005, it won the Best New Canadian Christian Fiction Award.
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing and Deborah’s ability to put down a really good plot with plenty of suspense and fast-paced action. She also has a rather remarkable way of portraying the weakness of the human condition, even with people who we would hold up as heroes. The book is about the international child porn industry and its links to the occult. The story set in the outback country of Nova Scotia (fictional “Sterling”) where incestual relationships in the town are quite rampant. “White trash” is a phrase that comes to mind. Here is how one review summarizes the book:
The Defilers features Linda Donner, a Boston native and lapsed Christian with emotional baggage including a reluctance to trust men because of the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager. Linda heads north to Canada to find herself, joins the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and is posted to (fictional) Sterling County in rural Nova Scotia. There she encounters the community of South Dare, whose residents wear greasy red and green checked shirts, live in tarpaper shacks with satellite TV dishes, and are afraid of outsiders–especially the police. Linda is hardly settled in a rural farmhouse with a smelly oil stove when somebody burns down a local pastor’s house. When Linda investigates, she finds a body in the woods. Who is the murdered man? Who murdered him? Who burned down Pastor Jordan’s house? Is the pastor as tacky as he seems? Does he molest children sexually, as South Dare residents claim? Pursuing the answers to these questions takes Linda on a journey through a near nervous breakdown, encounters with supernatural evils whose existence she never dreamed of, romance–and a rediscovery of the God she stopped believing in as a teenager. This is a good read for anyone interested in mystery, psychological and spiritual awakening, and the plight of ‘the defiled’ in society–children subjected to sexual exploitation and abuse.
You can read some of the other reviews about the novel here.
The only caution that I would offer about the book, from a theological perspective, is the “ecumenical” approach to confronting and expelling occult forces. While this was naturally a positive thing, the efficacy of the defeat of demonic forces resides with the Catholic Church alone. That was not apparent in the book. However, this rather small point aside, there were many solid Catholic truths communicated in the book, and it is definitely worth buying.
Socon or Bust gives The Defilers a hearty 3.5 checkered shirts out 5.0 as a rating.
Even though the book spins a really good story from a Christian perspective, it has not done that well commercially. You can help her out by buying a copy of it. Although the topic is rather creepy, it would make for a good gift this Christmas season, instead of the products that the communists of China keep selling us and getting rich off of.
Below is Deborah’s account on the inspiration for the book….
I decided to write the novel back in the mid-1990s after I tried to buy a book to read while on vacation. All the stuff in the drugstore bestsellers rack seemed full of gratuitous sex and violence. So I borrowed a bestselling Christian book that was being passed around the Baptist church I was attending at the time. After reading 100 pages in which nothing happened, just nice people doing nice things, I thought to myself “I can do better than this.” I was also fascinated by deliverance and the demonic, having had some personal experiences in that area. And this was the era where there were several cases of a kind of hysteria of Satanic ritual sexual abuse that saw some innocent people get railroaded into jail by hysterical people and implanted memories. And some of the first revelations about widespread sexual abuse in the Church were also coming out with Mt. Cashel and St. John’s, so that was already on my radar screen. I had worked in Nova Scotia as a journalist throughout most of the 1980s and been in some pretty strange communities where incest was rampant, the poverty like something out of the third world and there was kind of a criminal subculture, so I threw it all together in the mix that became The Defilers.
So it was kind of a pastiche of a number of issues that I had covered as a journalist, things that interested me, and a desire to get rich by writing a bestseller. On a more serious level, I wanted to bring a real story and some craft to Christian fiction and have some good teaching in there about the Gospel and about the power of Jesus Christ to deliver us from even the darkest demonic strongholds. I was my effort to do something to change the culture by producing an entertaining story that I hoped would be made into a movie. I wanted to write a book that I would want to read if I were on a long plane flight or having to wait at an airport. Something engaging and that would turn the pages for me yet not insult my intelligence and give me a spiritual boost to boot.
Sadly, the book has not sold well even though people that read it tend to like it. The Christian ladies I had thought would be my market find it too scary.
Though when I started writing the book, I was much more evangelical in my outlook, I did want to make sure I was not wading into areas that were theologically unsound. Sometimes people will make stuff up about vampires or demons that have no bearing on the reality of the spiritual dimension. So I had the book vetted by Dr. Allen Churchill, who endorsed it, (he was chair of the Billy Graham Mission here in 1998) and a former Mountie and Mountie chaplain; I had a pastor I know, Penn Clark, who has done many actual deliverances vet those parts; and just before it was ready to go to print, I had then Bishop Robert Mercer (then the Bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada and a fixture in the pro-life movement here in Ottawa) vet it to make sure it wasn’t contrary to catholic theology. Bishop Mercer was one of the bishops from the Traditional Anglican Communion who led us into the Catholic Church and earlier this year he was ordained a Catholic priest and is now Monsignor Robert Mercer and still active in ministry though he’s supposed to be retired and living in England and part of the Ordinariate over there.
I meant it to be a good read, to be pro-life, to be a book that someone who was struggling with their faith might find upbuilding.