I am a Frank Peretti fan. He is not a great writer, but he is a phenomenal storyteller.
So I was eager to get my hands on his latest novel, even if it wasn’t a solo effort but rather a collaboration with three other authors, Bill Meyers, Angela Hunt and Alton Gansky. I had heard of them before but hadn’t read any of their work.
At first I misunderstood the premise of Invitation, which is cycle one of the Harbingers series. I thought each author was going to be telling the same story through the eyes of a different character. Sort of like the Gospels.
That turns out to be true, but instead of the same story told four ways it is more a serial, four novellas with a new voice taking over when one finished his or her narration.
As a concept I like it, and would also probably have liked the same story told through four different lenses. Sadly though, Invitation didn’t work for me.
With Frank Peretti involved I knew it would be a supernatural thriller. Kind of a 21st century Charles Williams novel. That’s a tough genre to write in – you have to be able to have the reader suspend belief, to accept that the tale could happen no matter how implausible it seems. Peretti has done that in the past, with novels such as The Oath and The Visitation.
With Invitation I never got to the point where I could believe. I blame the characters, who seemed to me to be more caricature than stereotype. None of the four authors made me care about them or identify with them. When you are story-driven as opposed to character-driven, that shouldn’t matter – but the story had so many holes it might as well be constructed of Swiss cheese (or Emmental if you are a cheese purist).
Supernatural stuff happens. We live in a world we do not understand completely. But we humans react to the unknown in fairly predictable ways. I don’t buy the idea of a house that shifts from one dimension to the next. Or, if I am willing to accept that, I don’t think a skeptic, upon observing the phenomenon would just walk into the place without some assurance he would be able to get out alive in this dimension.
It was little things like that that frustrated me throughout the book. They pulled off the four voices well, but the holes were such that it didn’t really matter to me. Alton Gansky tied up a few loose ends in the closing novella, but it wasn’t enough to make me happy. Or maybe I am just too hypercritical and expect too much.
Invitation left me feeling unsatisfied. To remove the aftertaste I think I need to sit down with The Oath, or maybe Charles Williams’ The Place of the Lion.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.