Book Review: Manacle by Chris Aslan

The Back Cover:

“I hear the clatter of swords and torches outside the caves as the soldiers come for me. In a moment their faces will relax when they see a skinny, outnumbered boy. They don’t realize how dangerous I am. That I have monsters inside me. I want to shout out and warn them to run, but I can’t. And then the violence begins…”

What if your body was not your own? What if you had vast strength but were used as a weapon? What if you do things that are unforgivable… how are you supposed to find a way back?

My Thoughts:

As some of you might know, I am one of the librarians for our church – a job where I get to pre-read books. This particular one caught my eye during the Baker Book House Librarian Day they have each spring. I was fascinated by the idea of giving a backstory to the demoniac in the Gerasenes.

Chris Aslan takes the reader immediately into the home of the main character Phineas and begins to lay the groundwork for the superstition and beliefs of the young man’s family and village.

Obviously, scripture does not say how the demons come to be in the boy, but I found his suggestion that Phineas’ mother asked the shaman of the village to do whatever was necessary to protect her son extremely plausible.

The years during which Phineas was imprisoned in his own body were heavy and hard to read. Then his meeting with Jesus… I had goosebumps! The author captured the pain and redemption as well as the “what happens next?” feeling Phineas would’ve had after meeting Jesus.

Themes: demons, life during Jesus’ ministry, Israel, Sea of Galilee, superstition, restitution, forgiveness

Reservations: Chris Aslan refers to the circumcised Jewish men across the Sea of Galilee as “cock-cutters” more than a few times. He also brings Phineas (under the compulsion of the demons) to the brink of raping his brother as well as a soldier. I was disappointed. The storyline was certainly not moved along as a result; rather I felt it was dimmed by the author’s decision to add them.

Recommendations: I could not recommend this book for the library.

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Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

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