Upon Review: Pentecost by Joanna Penn

January 11th, 2012

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to know anything about what will happen in Joanna Penn‘s book, Pentecost, then don’t read any further. Suffice it to say it’s a fast-paced, enjoyable read with plenty of cinematic scenes worthy of Ron Howard’s direction.

The Full Review

If you like Indiana Jones action, a Lora Croft style heroine and a mystery steeped in Christian myth and mysticism, then Pentecost is the book for you.

Full of fast-paced action this book hits the ground running from the prologue where we are instantly captivated by the failed escape of a nun, one of the 12 Keepers of the Pentecost stones, and her resulting grisly death. From there we are launched on a whirlwind race around the globe with Oxford University psychologist Morgan Sierra and Jake Timber from the mysterious ARKANE, a British government agency specializing in paranormal and religious experience. It is up to them to trace the journeys of the Apostles and collect the Pentecost stones to save Morgan’s twin sister and 2-year-old niece from the sadistic Joseph Everett, who plans to use the stones to bring about a new Pentecost. Along the way the duo must also keep a step ahead of the mysterious Thanatos, an organization intent on using the stones to start a holy war.

If the aim of a good story is to take a protagonist, give her a goal, and then throw as much stuff between the protagonist and her goal so as to make it look impossible to reach it, then Joanna Penn has accomplished it with flare. Her use of both expected turns and surprising twists made this story haunt my dreams at night.

There were a few drawbacks that kept me from fully enjoying the entire book. First was some jarring “head hopping” where the POV switches between characters in the middle of a scene. Second was the need to “humanize” Joseph by making his goal to heal his brother with the Pentecost stones and revealing an abusive childhood. Third was that Thanatos’ attempts to liberate the stones from Morgan and Jake were almost laughable considering this was supposed to be a high-powered secret organization. Lastly was one glaring error in biblical attribution — Daniel was thrown to the lions, not into a fiery furnace.

Even with those drawbacks I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action-packed adventure stories, though if you tend toward biblical literalism and need your heroine to believe in God as main-line churches preach I would read something else. All in all, a most enjoyable read.