I first read Frank Peretti’s The Oath when I was in 10th grade. I read it Halloween night, starting at 9pm and ending around 2am, huddled under my covers. My mom came in several times to try and get me to sleep, only to be met with startled squeaks and a flashlight to her eyes.

I should pause now to say that this is hardcore Christian fiction – a modern-day horror story mixed with Biblical allegory. So if that isn’t really your cup of tea, feel free to skip over this one – I won’t be offended. 😉 As a Christian myself, I found this book to be incredibly satisfying, entertaining, and inspiring.

The plot revolves around a small town with a very tight-knight community – one that keeps shrinking. Every once in a while, someone will go missing. Usually they’re last seen acting drunk, talking and laughing loud, while a black ooze that smells of death drips from their chest. The town quietly accepts it and since they’re all alone, their deadly secret stays hidden and they live out their lives.

But one day, an outsider goes missing. His body is found, ripped completely in half, but the local police write it off as a bear attack and let it be. This outsider’s brother isn’t convinced though, and heads out to the town to investigate for himself. In true small town fashion, the townsfolk close ranks against him and he begins the difficult and dangerous process of uncovering their hidden legacy. What he finds is unbelievable and very, very hostile.

Themes of sin, redemption, temptation, and the power and protection of faith are woven into an incredible, suspenseful novel. Peretti mixes history, metaphore, and the supernatural together with a deft hand to create the perfect creepy atmosphere – you know, the kind that seems benign at first, but is rotten underneath?

Anyways, this is one book that I wish was more widely read. The themes are good, the writing clever, and the story engrossing. It really is worth checking out.