May Day: A Curse, in Black and White
by Scott
Archway Publishing

"Behold, I have created the blacksmith, who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the spoiler to destroy."

Muslim and Christian activists join forces to defeat the Satanic Church in this timely, fast-paced paranormal thriller set in Colorado and Texas. Hermano, a preacher working as a part-time waiter, keeps tabs on a site scout for the Satanic Church near Colorado Springs. Hermano soon discovers that local Satanists are joining forces with an association of druids to perform dark rituals that include sacrificing children. Even more chilling is that many of the robed men and women who attend these rituals hold influential positions in local communities.

Hermano also discovers he's not the only avenger in town. Toby, a giant of a man, appears near a Black Mass altar with an old broadsword etched with the letters INRI on the hilt, an abbreviation of a Latin phrase that Pontius Pilate posted over the head of Jesus on the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Toby not only terrifies his victims with this holy artifact but also cleaves some unfortunates into pieces. When Hermano heads for Texas to follow some leads, he hooks up with a ranching family whose recently murdered patriarch had encountered Satanists. All the Christian and Muslim avengers join forces with the Hunt family in a plan that builds to an explosive climax.

The vivid characterizations and sense of place enhance the somewhat predictable good vs. evil plot. The story arc is well-developed, and the inclusion of Muslim comrades-in-arms and the dangerous and powerful Hunt family women adds needed depth to the tale. A bit of welcome comic relief arrives in the form of Ali, an Afghan kid who escapes the clutches of a high-ranking Satanist, eager to make his mark on the side of divine retribution. The story's key takeaway is its sincere appeal to the higher nature of mankind.

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