Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

Reviewed by Vennessa Ng

"Although Immanuel’s Veins is something slightly different from Dekker, it is sure to please a majority of his existing fan base and even draw new readers to his books."

Take a journey back to the year 1772, to Moldavia, where darkness lingers in a magnificent castle, ready to steal and devour.

Meet Toma Nicolescu, a proclaimed war hero loyal to duty and trusted warrior to the empress of Russia, Catherine the Great. Sent by his empress, Toma travels to Moldavia with his friend in arms Alek Cardei. His mission is a simple one—protect the Cantemir family. When he arrives at the Cantemir estate, he soon realises his mission is not so simple. The Cantemir twins, Lucine and Natasha, are of renowned beauty and attract many suitors, some with questionable intentions. When the empress expresses her wish for Lucine to marry within Russian royalty to seal Moldavia’s allegiance to Russia, Toma battles his own growing desire for Lucine and his duty to the empress.

Matters become more desperate when Toma’s warnings to the Cantemirs regarding the Russian aristocrats residing at Castle Castile fall on death ears. The aristocrats’ boldness unnerves Toma, who finds their open expressions of lust unsettling. Then there is Vlad van Valerik, the charming and mysterious head of Castle Castile, whose authority is unquestionable among those who occupy his castle. When Vlad expresses his intention to court Lucine, Toma is forced to choose between love and duty.

Toma’s control begins to disintegrate around him as Alek and Natasha are drawn away by the aristocrat's charm and promises of endless revelry. But beneath their beautiful outer shell lies a dark evil, which threatens to sweep across the land.

Can Toma stop the aristocrats before their evil spreads too far? Can he save his beloved Lucine from the clutches of Vlad? Will his love win above duty?

Immanuel’s Veins is typically Dekker, yet untypical at the same time. On one hand we have the usual good vs. evil, great symbolism, and again there are ties to his previous Circle Trilogy. However, Dekker has stretched himself this time by writing his protagonist in first person point of view. I liked this. It shows his growth at character development and certainly allowed the reader to get deep into Toma’s mind. I also loved the symbolism the story represented, Christ’s sacrificial love for his bride, the church, and the lengths evil will go to to steal His bride away.

What I didn’t like was the simplicity of the story. It was almost too simple for me, redeemed only in the last third when the action intensified. Much of the beginning of the novel centred around lust rather than love, which I’m sure was Dekker’s point. But even as the story progressed, I had a hard time accepting Toma’s feelings for Lucine as true love considering they had known each other barely a week. I also missed the usual Dekker twists and turns in a novel and found it to be the most predictable of his books.

It may not be your typical vampire story, but the elements are there. With vampire books, movies, and television shows populating secular media, it’s hardly surprising to see it approached via a Christian worldview, although Dekker certainly isn’t the first CBA author to tread the waters. I did find the biblical tie ins believable, another redeeming factor for the novel.

Although Immanuel’s Veins will appeal more to female readers, I am sure there will be a few like me who aren’t fans of romance novels and will be left a little disappointed and longing for a more meatier story.

Publicity for the book states “This story is for everyone—but not everyone is for this story.” This is proven by a publisher in Holland refusing to publish the book, though I fail to see why myself. Although the book is sensual in many ways, there is nothing overtly sexual about it, and it is tame compared to Song of Solomon in the Bible.

Although Immanuel’s Veins is something slightly different from Dekker, it is sure to please a majority of his existing fan base and even draw new readers to his books.

Vennessa NgVennessa Ng lives in New Zealand with her husband and three children. As an avid reader with a passion for Christian worldview fiction, she works to help authors improve their craft through her freelance editing service, Aotearoa Editorial Services (www.aotearoaeditorial.com), and helps publicize books and authors via her review site, Illuminating Fiction (www.illuminatingfiction.com). She has also reviewed for Focus On Fiction, Infuze Magazine, Novel Reviews, 1340 Magazine, and now TitleTrakk. In her spare time she pursues her own passion for writing and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.