Prepping for the afterlife is loads of fun!
If the streets of Seattle really were paved with emeralds… you wouldn’t enjoy FAITH nearly as much. This third installment of Steve Windsor’s “The Fallen” has you wishing they were if only to make the protagonist happy. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes he’s made, you’ll root for our favorite long-suffering, swill-nipping priest even if it kills you. Why not? It’s killed him several heart-stopping times.
For someone who describes his faith as a “glass house,” Father Benito Benedetti is awfully hard on himself. And so he remains throughout Windsor’s brilliantly formidable character study. You get one of the clearest, most intimate rides through the life and afterlife of Benito, renamed Faith in a most ironic eternity, before and during his time as a priest. Like an honest cleric of any era, Benito simply cannot bear to blame anyone other than himself for his loss of that ecstasy of certainty his religion has slammed into him all his life.
“Like all glass houses, mine would be brought down by stones thrown from inside it . . . by my own weak-willed hand.” Faith just can’t give himself proper credit for questioning platitudes. And he looks sadly and sardonically at the bleakness his world has become. We’re taken through several stops back to that dark, rainy, Protection agent-littered Seattle that has seen more democratic days.
Windsor has once again bestowed upon his readers a study so thorough and profound in its simplicity that you can’t help but come out of it thoroughly knowing Benito and why this seemingly kind, upstanding priest preaches through life as lost as his enslaved parishioners. A cleric who lost his own faith, alas, before he ever approached a pulpit.
The story begins at a defining moment of Benito’s life as he witnesses the literal fall of a prominent character from the heavens whom we’ve seen before, then takes you back to a farm upbringing where religious indoctrination and truisms of wisdom bestowed by “the Colonel” should be enough, you’d think, for smooth sailing to a clerical role where questioning gets you nowhere.
This is also a time shortly before the main power-that-be becomes the Protection agent, to a time before the Constitution is relegated to a quaint relic, to Faith’s memories of a waning “old world.” Readers of “The Fallen” haven’t seen this before – a glimpse of society as we still know it. You can’t help to understand why the good father takes a nip now and again because it “helps me stomach the lunacy we let happen.”
But never fear. Hearty reminiscing and a trip to the “Mike” – totalitarian black market – for some celestial emergency supplies isn’t the only treat you get here. Windsor just can’t resist a return visit to the hilarity of the Dungeon of the Damned, that afterlife prison that houses anyone who fails to please the supreme being of the current eternity. Yep, here’s more “cawing and clawing and biting and baying” of the most motley and exotically named ensemble we’ve met yet. Lucifer – remember Dal, the Dark Angel of Light? – and his crazed crew of demons are busy plotting the downfall of the supreme leader, Life – no prize herself with plots galore up her own godly sleeve.
And Faith’s bucolic childhood Colonel? Of course he’s had a taste of that Great Mountain of the Eternities we’ve all heard about. His reference to “the Arena of Reckoning on Judgment Night” wasn’t a dream, was it? And we get enough hints that some other characters Faith meets on his earthly errand are also visitors from that realm. I’d stick around for more if I were you. There’s plenty in this series so far to hook you for Life.
"It doesn’t matter how many mistakes he’s made, you’ll root for our favorite long-suffering, swill-nipping priest even if it kills you. Why not? It’s killed him several heart-stopping times."− Ana Young (Amazon Review)