In The Departed, Kathryn Mackel writes a fascinating story about the occult, its scam side, its delusional side, and it soul-snatching real side.
Joshua Lazarus's career as a magician flatlines until he overhears retired actress, Julia Madsen, cry out to her dead lover. That night when she comes to his performance, which is a disaster, he uses the opportunity to prevent her from committing suicide by pretending he has a message from her lover. Madsen helps Lazarus launch a new career as a medium.
As Joshua's career as a medium grows, his marriage to Maggie suffers. Maggie begins to help at a Christian after-school care center run by feisty Amy Howland in the heart of a violent occultic neighborhood. Amy refuses to let the Astaroths, a group of violent occultists, drive her from the needy rough neighborhood in spite of home invasions and death threats.
Penn Roper, formerly of Special Ops, has built his life around his beloved daughter Tanya. When Tanya kills her mother and herself, Penn pursues those he holds responsible, the father of Tanya's aborted baby and Joshua Lazarus.
Joshua's rise to fame is meteoric. Then the scam begins to fall apart as spirits visit him. When people around him start to die and Maggie becomes a Christian, spiritual forces seek his soul and earthly ones seek his death.
Mackel does a great job weaving real occultism and the con game many play. Her plot increasingly grabs the reader as she builds toward the climax. Her characters are strong individuals from the loving wife Maggie to the revenge-bound Penn Roper to the bizarre Astaroth leader Theo.
At first, I found few of the characters likable. Mackel introduced Amy, whom I liked immediately, several chapters into the story and then only briefly. Persevering through the first few chapters gets the reader into an absorbing story, but you may not want to read it at home alone when the house is dark and strange little noises catch your ear. -- Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
Millions of television viewers watch Joshua speaking to the dead, but none see his inner spiritual battle.
Unexplained Voices. Desperate Apparitions. A Dangerous Coven of Witches.
Welcome to The Other Side.
Joshua Lazarus and his wife, Maggie, are reeling from the overnight success of his new television show, starring Joshua as a medium—passing messages to the audience from their dearly departed. But when strange voices begin to haunt him without relief, and ghosts seemingly cry out to him for help, he realizes he’s involved with forces he never before believed existed. As Joshua and Maggie try to make sense of the visitations, a closer, more visible force is preparing to attack.
Between the killer who hunts him and the pervasive occult presence in Salem, Massachusetts, no one close to Lazarus is safe. On the brink of being consumed alive, Maggie and Joshua must fight for their lives—and their souls.