Have you ever read the Book of Revelation in the Bible? Not for the faint of heart, this book contains numerous prophecies, including what will happen to the earth at the End of Days, also known as the apocalypse. Having only a general idea of what is actually foretold and never having read it myself, when we received the offer to review The Sounding by Carrie Salo I was intrigued and a bit intimidated. I was going to have a lot of learning to do about not only the Book of Revelations, but the history of Catholicism as well. And so I dove in head first, excited to see what Salo had in store for me!
The Sounding begins with a murder. On a small college campus in the Appalachian hills, a student named Clyde Parker is found with a fatal wound to his face so severe that the medical examiner estimates that it would have taken something moving at 200 miles per hour to cause it. The catch is that the wound is in the shape of a human hand. Meanwhile, Father Chris Mognahan, a priest of a small parish in upstate New York becomes connected to this brutal case through his involvement in the Hetairia Melchizedek, a secret society within the Catholic Church that is charged with investigating and protecting humanity against the seven seals and seven angels of the apocalypse what will usher in the end of human life on our planet. Chris, along with other members of the order, are working against a more dire threat than the Church has ever faced before, as they fear that the prophecy outlined in Revelations will be unleashed millennia before it is supposed to occur. Their only hope lies in Remiel, the seventh angel in the prophecy that holds the key to saving humanity from prematurely ending in disaster. Fortunately, Chris and his colleagues think they have miraculously found her, but she is facing an imminent threat from a demonic creature referred to as the Other. Will Chris and the order be able to save Remiel and help her to prevent the early coming of the apocalypse, or will the Other prove to be more than they can handle?
This book was quite an undertaking. Part fiction, part history lesson, and part Bible analysis, Salo writes a detailed and complex story that drew me in from the beginning. Having never really known anything about the Book of Revelations, I thought the passages that Salo analyzes and uses as her backdrop for this novel were a great choice. Nothing is more dramatic than the prophecy about the End of Days, and just the actual passages alone are enough to make anyone’s pulse quicken. Add to this the element of a modern-day murder mystery, as well as the mystique of an ancient Catholic Church sect, and you have the makings of a great novel. And this was definitely a great novel. It’s definitely apparent that Salo did a large amount of research for this novel, as the amount of history and detail which she includes is unparalleled. When I learned that she actually even traveled to Italy to research and got to visit the catacombs, I wasn’t surprised. I always appreciate it when an author puts this much time and dedication into a work. I feel that one great novel by an author is far superior to 10 mediocre ones in the same time frame. That being said, Salo’s research definitely helped with character development and plot enrichment. Little details, such as describing hotel furniture as over-polished (I never thought of this until now!) and the little eccentricities of human emotion and self-doubt, are interwoven expertly into the novel, making it a rich read that was full of surprises. If you’re in the mood for a thrilling suspense story that is an intellectual adventure as well, definitely give this a try. You won’t be disappointed!
5 out of 5 stars
The Sounding by Carrie Salo
23 House Publishing (2011)
Paperback 478 pages
Special thanks to Eric over at Planned Television Arts for sending us a review copy!