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25946627Eight authors come together to build a powerful collection of dark young adult short stories inspired by the mysteries, faith, and darkness found within the Bible. Old Testament and New Testament, iconic and obscure figures alike are illuminated, explored, and re-envisioned throughout this charity anthology from Month9Books.

Daniel and the Dragon by Stephen Clements
A troubled orphan named Habakkuk dutifully follows his master, the prophet Daniel, into temples of blood-thirsty demon-gods, battles with unspeakable horrors, and bears witnesses to mind-breaking evil until his master’s zealous defiance of the king’s law seals their fate.

Babylon by Nicole Crucial
Far above the earth, in Second Eden, where moments and eternities all blur together, young Babylon befriends Sefer, the Book of Life. As Babylon awaits the moment she’ll fulfill her destiny, she and Sefer try to understand the world in which they live.

Last Will & Testament by Mike Hays
A homeless young boy, Baz, bears the weight of humanity on his shoulders and upon his body. When dark forces test a new-found friendship, Baz’s willingness to bear the ugliness of their world will be shaken.

The Demon Was Me by Sharon Hughson
Based on the story of the demon-possessed boy healed by Jesus, this tale provides a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world where a teenage boy seeks to journey to a better land and yearns to discover the kind of man he’s meant to be, only to be hijacked by an evil spirit intent upon chipping away at the hope, faith, and resilience of its host.

The Deluge by Marti Johnson
A non-believer shares the story of Noah’s ark-building and the deadly downpour that follows. Fear, faithlessness, and the fallibility of mankind collide in a community where second chances aren’t unlimited and a better-late-than-never attitude just might be your doom.

Condemned by Elle O’Neill
Just sixteen-years-old, Barabbas finds himself pulled out of Routlege Academy and into a reality show competition—against Jesus himself—where the reward for the winner is life.

First Wife by Lora Palmer
In a first-person retelling of the saga of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, themes of family, deception, guilt, and heartache emerge amidst the first days of Leah’s marriage to Jacob—a marriage mired in trickery a mere week before Jacob was to marry Leah’s sister Rachel.

Emmaculate by Christina Raus
Based on the story of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we enter the troubled mind of Emma, who finds herself torn between her religious upbringing and the purity ring that binds her to her boyfriend and the pregnancy that results from her relationship with another boy.

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Tour Giveaway: One (1) winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm (US ONLY); Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of In the Beginning: Dark Retellings of Biblical Stories (INT)

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

All anthologies are hit & miss, dependent upon the style of the authors involved.  This one’s more hit than miss- good ideas, flawed execution.

What’s Good:  “The Demon was Me” had an organic flow to it, trying to fight the demon’s possession even as he knew it was a losing battle.  Only thing is you won’t understand how a bunch of grown men had so much trouble keeping a teenaged boy restrained… “Deluge” was the best story- seeing Noah & his family through the eyes of a non-believer.  “Last Will & Testament” needed more fleshing out; felt like it was all happening in a vacuum.

What’s Bad: “Babylon” was… odd.  It kinda threw all sorts of things at you, mostly for the sake of doing so.  One moment things were one way, then they were another all the while slogging towards its inevitable finale.  Just didn’t work for me.  “Condemned” was kinda insulting.  Right off the bat the author shoehorned in a few Hunger Games references- apparently because the reader would be too dense to pick up on similarities and inspiration for the story.  Barabbas was a sympathetic guy right up until the end when he suddenly does a one-eighty.  Why not keep him consistent?- wouldn’t have changed anything.  “First Wife” was just plain clumsy.  So the wedding simply entails putting the two of them in a room to have sex and the bride keeps her veil on the whole night…?  That’s the best the author could come up with to explain how Leah ended up with her sister’s betrothed-  c’mon, really?  While I liked the premise to “Emmaculate”, I had a hard time accepting that things would’ve been allowed to get so far out of hand.

What’s Left: An entertaining collection of stories that’s keep you reading.  I think you’ll like it.

3/5 stars.

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