Tuesday, 5 March 2013

In Review: Anticipation of the Penitent

Anticipation of the Penitent
by: Nancy LaRonda Johnson
Received through a giveaway

Quote from the book:

"No one knew the whole story of the caged woman. She appeared to be a living receptacle for the shipment of evil in today's society. "


The Anticipation of the Penitent is a literary Christian novel that falls into a category that normally is not my genre of choice. I  sometimes hesitate to read religious works, but I was revealed to see that the strong Christian theme in this book never came across as proselytizing under the banner of literary fiction

This is the story of Thomas, a serial killer who believes his father is Satan. Thomas is devoted to his father, worships him even into adulthood, and would do anything to please him, even if that includes taking the lives of innocent children. But this book is also about Thomas's mother, Alezea. She is a spiritually splintered woman, convinced she can never escape Satan's control. She is forced to do horrible things and even helps Thomas dispose of his victims. With the aide of a close friend, Alezea finds the strength to reach out for help and salvation. But more than anything, Alezea wants to save her son. Her efforts lead them to Gabriel, a Christian community that helps people find their way to a better life through Christian ideology.  

Several scenes in this novel made me emotionally and physically uncomfortable. But despite these unspeakable acts, I never found them to be overly gruesome in their description and I can honestly say I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to read this novel. The other reason why I enjoyed this book is because it was extremely well written. The author, Nancy LaRonda Johnson, had me feeling some degree of compassion for characters that normally I would want to see burn in Hell for all of eternity. And as a mother, I could understand the lengths Alezea went through to try to save her son. There were even moments during the book when I wished I could have called Nancy on the phone to plead with her to stop torturing her characters. That is a testament of how emotionally invested I became in these characters lives. 

Nancy also has a strong command of the English language and made the story flow effortlessly, even though some of the most difficult moments of the book. In the end, this book isn't about the horrible acts committed by Satan or Thomas or even Alezea. It's about the power of faith, the need for forgiveness, and letting go. 

Overall, I think this was a very good book, despite it not being something I would normally pick up, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it. 


  1. It does sound powerful and I knew it had a strong Christian theme. Good for Nancy!

  2. I think those are the best kind of books....the ones we wouldn't normally read...but do (for whatever reason), and then really enjoy.

  3. I love when I pick up a gook outside my usual reading style and end up committed to the story. Nice to see a good review of Nancy's book!

  4. Very complex-sounding read, Elise. I shy away from many religious-themed books for similar reasons. And I consider myself to be a religious person in many respects. I just don't enjoy having perspectives crammed down my throat--even if they're my own perspectives. :) I have an admittedly sensitive BS detector, so I think my feathers are a little too easily ruffled in this regard.

    Good to hear this book pulled it off, and great review.

  5. Interesting, but with my limited reading time, not likely I'd read this. I have an aversion to certain genres too, Elise.

    Kudos to you for reading it and sharing it with us.

  6. Alex: Yes, this is a very powerful read. (:

    Mark: Exactly. That's what I really enjoyed about this book too.

    Julie: I do too! (:

    EJ: I understand what you mean, and I too am sensitive to books that come off as preachy, but I'm happy that this was not the case imo with Nancy's book. (:

    DG: Thanks DG. I probably wouldn't have picked this book up had I not gotten it as a giveaway, but I am glad I got to read it.

  7. If proselytizing means being harassed and preached to, then I agree 100% I hate that too. My faith relationship is as personal as my marriage, if I want advice, I will seek it...if I don't, butt out.

    But I do love a good book that supports a theme I can root for, and this sounds like it's right up my spiritual alley!

  8. Sometimes its nice to step out of the genres we prefer every now and then. Great review. :)

  9. Nice. Any time a writer can move me--without blatant emotional traps, I'm hooked. Nothing better than characters you love. =)

  10. Hi Elise,

    What a thorough and articulate write up of the book you have shared, Elise. Even though, I also, would hesitate to read a book with a religious undertone, it seems, despite that, you considered the book a notable read.

    Look after yourself, Elise. And hopefully the sunshine continues.

    In peace and goodwill, your way,

    Gary :)

  11. I don't typically read books about religion, either...but you've interested me with this one. Awesome review of it, by the way. Your words are some that I'd expect to see in a literary magazine!

  12. It does sound intriguing. The quote about the caged woman piqued my interest.

  13. Thank you Elise for reading my book and for this wonderful and thorough review. I so appreciate your input!

    And yes, though there is Christian theology in the book, it's a book that not many Christians would want to read unfortunately, because of its dark nature and the serial killer topic. It's meant for everyone, Christian and non, as both would enjoy it in the end.

  14. Hi, Elise,
    Your review tells me the book was well-written. When you get invested in the characters, it's a good sign.

  15. What a great review! You were fair and honest about what you liked and didn't, and you were so gracious about it. Very thorough and well-wrtten. :-)

  16. It does sound like an intense read and very interesting. Good to hear you found the subject matter was handled well.

  17. Elizabeth: That's exactly what I meant about 'proselytizing.' And if you don't mind a dark and emotional story with in-depth characters, then this is definitely the book for you! (-:

    Mina: Thanks Mina. I had been wanting to step out of my usually genre and boy was I served, and in a good way. (-:

    Crystal: Hi Crystal. I agree, good characterization is so important in a story. It's what got me turning the pages in this book. (-:

    Gary: I am like you and do shy away from religious books, but like I said in my review, this one was well written and didn't come across as 'preachy.'
    Oh and Gary, if you see the sun, tell it to come back over here, please. (-:

    Randi: Thanks Randi. I don't often review books because I'm really slow at it. I'd be embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to write this review, lol. But it's an honest review and that's what I strive to accomplish.

    Sherry: That's the first two sentences of the book. Talk about a hook! (:

    Nancy: You are very welcome Nancy and I agree, your book though very dark in nature, can be read by people from varying different backgrounds. I read it and very much enjoyed your book. (:

    Joy: I'm usually a plot person, but in this book the characters were what drew me in.

    Lexa: Thanks Lexa, reviews don't come easy to me but I do make it a point to be honest when I write one.

    Nick: Thanks Nick, it was a powerful and interesting read. (:

  18. Wow! Good for Nancy! Like you said, this is probably not a book I would normally pick up. However, your review has caught my attention. Well done :)

  19. Wow, Elise. You really know how to write a review. About to go check this one out. :)

  20. Your review gives me a clear idea of what the book is about. That is not something all reviewers achieve. It stirs my curiosity. Excellent job!

  21. Sam: Hey there! Glad my review caught your attention. I'm the same way as you, normally I wouldn't have picked this up on my own, but I'm glad I got the chance to read it and I'll now be a little more open to other genres in the future. (:

    Linda: Hi Linda, This was a dark and powerful read but so well written. Definitely worth checking out. (:

    Al: I'm glad you enjoyed the review, it sure took me a while to write, lol!

  22. It's not what I usually read either, but you made it sound interesting. Great review! :)


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