Saturday, December 10, 2011

Encountering the Landscape of Our Souls: A Review of Winterland by Mike Duran

Some of the best stories I've read are when spiritual realities that typically can't be interacted with through the five senses take on very physical and interactive manifestations. That's what I loved about Ted Dekker's Circle Series. But this can also be terrifying. Imagine interacting with the landscape of your mind's worst fears, deepest regrets, and most chilling propensities to do what is evil. The result for a lot of people might be a post-apocalyptic landscape that looks a lot like the story world of Mike Duran's latest novella WINTERLAND.

In WINTERLAND, a young woman with a scarred past named Eunice Ames is thrust into the horrifying landscape of her dying mother's psyche after an automobile accident. Eunice finds herself in a world that looks like it has clearly been ravaged by a violent war, and this is the result of her mother's memories and regrets. She meets a mysterious man named Joseph who says that she was brought her to fight for her mother's soul before she becomes the queen of Winterland, left without hope in a hell of her own making. As they journey down a highway in Winterland, they come across three interesting characters who represent three of Eunice's mother's deepest dysfunctions-a deformed grub man named Mordant, a self-righteous reverend named Ames, and a mysterious and creepy little girl named Sybil. These must be dealt with before Eunice's mother dies, or the consequences will be more than anyone can bear. Will Eunice find the courage to fight her mother's demons even as she discovers her own?

I've been following Mike Duran's blog for awhile now, so when I heard about WINTERLAND and the opportunity to get it for free, I jumped on it quickly. The story is a fast read and will definitely keep you reading until the end. The strength of the story is in Duran's vivid description of his story world. As I read, I couldn't get this very clear picture of what Winterland looked like out of my head. I kept thinking of the landscape of WAR OF THE WORLDS as I read, only darker and more disturbing.

The story is definitely creepy. There's a particularly disturbing scene where Eunice encounters a manifestation of her dead grandmother. The creepiest part of the story, though, is the introspective nature of it. You start to wonder what the landscape of your mind would look like if the intangible parts of you suddenly became a very tangible world. What darkness lies within us that we would never want anyone to see?

Mike Duran has a knack for getting people to think, and that's important in a world where we often become numb to being introspective about ourselves. WINTERLAND does a good job of jolting a reader out of indifference, much like Jesus did with many of the things he said. The journey of Eunice in WINTERLAND is a terrifying journey similar to the journey we all need to take to shed light on the darkest areas of our lives where we need to experience life-altering redemption.

I received this book for free from the author

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