“Kingdom Come” is a bit like Supernatural, or, rather Shadow Hunter Academy with God and Christ in the forefront. If there are demons, they are Satan’s creatures plain and simple. Unlike some of the other paranormal books out there that use demons as their villains without any religious aspect to them, that’s not the case in this novel. Our main character is part of an elite demon hunting academy based in Vatican City, developed by the newest Pope Quintus. Their goal is simple and straight forward: kill all demons, and go where the Church needs them to battle the forces of evil. Everything from complex exorcisms, to full out war for the Vatican, the DH is there, each team with their own unique characters and powers, reminiscent of a video game class system. Jason struggles to find his place on the team, often insubordinate when his instincts tell him to act, often with dire consequences. He’s a character on a journey all in the service of God. So, obviously, if you don’t want or like Christian Speculative Fiction mixed in with your fantasy, this won’t be the book for you, because Coogle never shies away from the fact that his book is all about the glory of God.
Where the book, and the author in particular, really shine is in crafting the unique weapons, armors, and the capabilities of these devices. Its James Bond levels of cool, sexy tech and weapons that can do incredible things, all lead by a quirky female scientist. Love that! The battles and the demons themselves are also wonderfully crafted. The battles are intense and fast paced, and the demons are downright terrifying at times. While Baal was definitely a worthy adversary, I think my favorite demon Jason fights is early on when he and his teammate, Michael, go and investigate a haunting of sorts in a rural community. The way he wrote that? All creepy goodness! I also really enjoyed the banter between Katie and Travis, members of another team that are friends with Jason, and the witches that appear later on. The witches had not only interesting powers, but a nice character arc in a book that often only presented things as black or white; if it’s not on the side of Christ, then it’s evil.
Which brings me to the reason I had a hard time connecting to the story. There are only two sides, and for an organization that supposedly takes all Christians—Catholics, Protestants, you name it—it didn’t do a great job showing anything beyond the fight against evil beings. There was little kindness or compassion. Characters are often so blind and ridged about their faith that they will turn on members of their own organization if they don’t like what they are saying. I know Roderick was meant to be this strong, team leader, a father figure to Jason with a no-nonsense attitude, but often he came off as an adolescent tyrant, willing to rage and brutally punish Jason for his mistakes. There was no teaching. No gentleness, no forgiveness, no capacity to see reason. It was frustrating and it had me dislike Roderick as a character, unfortunately. There were a lot of characters in the book as well, but we don’t get a lot of their backstories outside of Maria; they are just there to help with the fighting, so they can feel a bit flimsy, their motivations questionable. But even when I was wrapped up in the story, the flow was often interrupted by grammatical errors or typos. Normally, I don’t mention these things, no book is perfect and there will always, ALWAYS be mistakes no matter how wonderful the editor is, or how many people proofread it before publishing. But there were consistently a lot throughout the novel which broke my flow, had me tripping over words, and stopping to reread when something was missing. Which is too bad, because it’s an otherwise exciting ride.
“Kingdom Come” has some very thrilling moments with the advanced weaponry and armor, the imaginative demons, and the video game-like characters. This story would make for an epic graphic novel! While it’s maybe not the best showcase of some of the more compassionate tenants of the Christian doctrine, I did like some of the themes it presented. Also, the author included a little behind the scenes info at the back of the paperback on how he went about crafting some of the characters, the inspiration for the DH, and even some of the major themes he included and why. It was a nice touch, and I enjoyed seeing that insight into the author’s process. But I had a hard time feeling like I understood a lot of the characters, never liked Roderick, and the grammatical issues often broke the wonderful flow I was getting into with the story, which is why I’m giving it 3 stars. Still, it was an interesting read, and if you like Christian Speculative Fiction, I definitely think you should pick this book up! And thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for an honest review.
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!