Tuesday, September 30, 2014

HEAVEN'S PREY by Janet Sketchley: a review

Janet Sketchley's novel HEAVEN'S PREY demonstrates and celebrates the power of God over evil including pornography and abuse of women. Set in present-day Nova Scotia, this book is the first in her Redemption's Edge series.

The main character, Ruth Warner, a forty-something Christian, persistently prays that God will save Harry Silver, a rapist and killer of young women including her niece. One evening, as Ruth returns from a prayer meeting, she's mistakenly abducted by none other than Harry himself instead of his intended victim, an attractive young blond.

What follows is a long psychological, physical, and spiritual battle between Ruth and Harry. He takes her to a remote cottage, where he abuses her though not to the point of rape. Ruth isn't his type: too old, wrong hair. However, he plans to rape her eventually, fueling his passion with the hard-core pornography he's addicted to.
Author Janet Sketchley

Ruth prays that God will help her escape. She also keeps praying that her captor will come to faith in Christ. The first part of her prayer seems to be answered when Harry becomes so ill that he no longer knows she's there. She slips away from the cottage, only to be caught by Harry's accomplices, drug dealers who have been watching the place with WebCams.

What now? The story hurtles from crisis to crisis, hope to disappointment, suspense to catastrophe, and finally to a bittersweet ending.

Author Janet Sketchley is a strong writer. She's sure of her message, no wavering. Her story is crystal clear.

Sketchley is excellent at letting readers in on her characters' thoughts and feelings. Examples: "Ruth had only one...anchor against the rising tide of fear. But even prayer took a conscious act of will." Ruth's husband, frantic with worry after she's abducted, thinks "Face this alone? How could he face it at all?"

The story includes several flashbacks, all well written and well placed, though some are too long for my taste; for example, the account of how Harry began his career as a racing car driver. On the other hand, this account allows Sketchley to do one of the things she's best at: write about action. Throughout the novel, her action scenes are exciting and authentic.

Sketchley doesn't shy away from describing evil. She's particularly strong when portraying the hold that pornography can have on a person. In one flashback, Harry is invited to spend three days on a yacht with friends. He decides he can't go because he "couldn't face three days cut off from his porn." Sketchley is equally frank about domestic abuse, as well as the effects of illegal drugs.

Some of what her characters think and say regarding their Christian faith is predictable. But some of it is so fresh and moving, it made me cry. Examples: Harry's mother talking to the boy Harry about the beatings she endures at the hands of her husband: "Jesus puts his arms around me. If not, I couldn't make it." Ruth's pastor being interviewed on TV about the abducted Ruth: "He faced directly into the camera and raised his hand, palm forward. 'Harry Silver, I command you, in the power and the name of Jesus Christ, to leave His servant Ruth alone. You have no authority over her, and you will not harm her in any way.'"

Does Harry heed the pastor's words? Does he even hear them? You'll need to read the book to find out. I look forward to Book Two in Sketchley's Redemption's Edge series. It's titled SECRETS AND LIES. Here's an excerpt, quoted with the author's permission:

"The afterimages of her dream burned in her
imagination. Her sixteen-year-old son, larger than life on
a brightly-lit stage, arms raised to embrace the crowd’s
cheers, electric guitar draped low across his hips. An
oversize brown leather jacket hung open over his faded
tee-shirt and jeans.

She knew that jacket: Butter-soft Italian calfskin,
steeped in beer and Old Spice, ruggedly nicked and
scraped here and there, with a cigarette burn inside the
left cuff.

Skip’s jacket. Paul’s father.

In her dream she’d stood beside her son, but Paul only
had eyes for his fans. An almost palpable energy radiated
from his body—the same power trip that used to sweep
Skip away whenever he performed. With the same cost to
those who loved him."

HEAVEN'S PREY is available on Amazon. Here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/lvvsyhp

Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books, editor of many others, elmams@shaw.ca, http://elmasalmanac.blogspot.ca/, http://elmams.wix.com/elma


  1. Thank you for the review, Elma! I'm touched to know that parts of the story moved you.

  2. Great review, Elma! I read the book too and was also impressed with the action scenes, and Janet's skill with words. Her second book sounds just skilled--and scary!