Frank Peretti, for me, sets the standard for Christian fiction. Though his novels are clearly aimed at a Christian audience, or at least a readership concerned with the same topics that are of central concern to contemporary Christians, they never fall into being simply about those topics. Peretti's story-telling always remains top-notch, and his fiction is always good to read for its story, not just for its ideas.
That said, The Visitation is the one novel of Peretti's that I've read and not liked. (There's one or two that I've not yet read.) I can't say that the ideas are exactly the problem, nor can I say that the story-telling lags. In fact, the story is told so well that it sticks clearly in my mind, even though it has been right about a decade since I read it. The problem, I suppose, is that it hits home.
The Visitation is not like Peretti's earlier novels. It is not about Christians fighting the evils "out there" that seek to invade our churches and the individuals that make up those churches. Instead, this book is about the evils that invaded our fellowships so long ago that they are perfectly at home, accommodated amongst us all the time. It is a very uncomfortable thing, having those evils confronted, even if it is in fiction.
Peretti put this story together as well as he did any of those that came before it. It is well told, and the pictures he paints aren't likely to leave the reader's mind too quickly after they've been absorbed. They are vivid, they are visceral, and they are very disturbing. This is the real stuff of the horror genre.
Even if The Visitation makes you as uncomfortable as it made me when I first read it, I have to say that it is probably worth picking up, especially if you are prepared. I think it has a lot to say that is right on the mark, and the story is put together very well. I've heard many readers comment about how tough to swallow this novel is, and I felt very much the same way when I read it. But as time has worn on, I've come to an appreciation of the novel and the way it challenges some realities through the fictions it sets up.
Reviewed by Shelly Bryant © 2010