4 out of 4 stars
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How far can you go to stand for what you believe? When push comes to shove, will you be able to stand with your values regardless of the cost? These are the kinds of questions that Always Before Me by John Servant raises.
It was the wake of Father Anthony, who died of lung cancer. Father Richard had come to pay his final respects to a holy man. Sitting there alone, he was reminiscing on the life of the priest whose remains lay in the casket before him. While the thoughts were going through his head, another priest, Father Paul, came to mind. Father Anthony and Father Paul both died in prison, albeit for different reasons.
While Father Richard was lost in thought, a young man walked into the small room where the wake was going on. The young man was John Daly, the late Father Anthony's nephew. John came because he was informed of his uncle's death, and the possessions his uncle left for him. The only thing John knew about his uncle was the accusation of molesting a young girl leveled against him. There was something about Father Anthony that John didn't know. What could this be?
Always Before Me is one of the three Catholic novels written by John Servant. The book is deeply rooted in Catholicism and all the beliefs associated with it. Both the major and minor characters in this book have a connection to the Catholic Church. The practices, prayers, and setting all project Catholicism in its fullest expression. You have to have a Catholic foundation or an idea of their beliefs and practices to follow most parts of the story in this book. The author shows his deep roots and vast knowledge of the Catholic Church.
I applaud the author's writing skills. I have read a couple of religious novels in recent times and have been utterly disappointed. For most of these books, it was more about projecting the religion than building on a story. I usually have difficulty understanding the plot. But, John showed me in this book that a religious novel could also appeal to everyone. He did well to cater to the reading needs of religious and non-religious readers alike. He showed the utmost respect when talking about people of a different faith. Most importantly, there was a story to follow and lessons to learn from the book.
What I liked most was the way the author infused different writing styles to make the book fun and engaging. He used flashbacks to narrate the backstory effectively. He seamlessly connected it to the beginning of the book. It made the book more interesting than it was at the beginning. The author also used suspense to keep me anticipating. I fell for the temptation of predicting specific outcomes only for the author to shatter them with the twists and turns. This book also elicited different emotions at different points for me. I was excited, sad, angry, surprised, and encouraged while reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
I only found one error in the book, but it wasn't enough to take away any point. There was nothing I disliked about this book as it was well-written and professionally edited. I rate it four out of four stars. I recommend it specifically to anyone who enjoys religious novels. People who are opposed to religion can also read it as there wasn't any prejudice in the narrative.
Always Before Me
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