Tyndale House Publishers
In Tom Pawlik’s Valley of the Shadow, the characters go through situations that test their beliefs in spiritual matters, giving way to a message of overcoming the past, trusting God, and showing compassion. This suspenseful plot weaves together different characters and situations on alternate planes of existence. Valley of the Shadow is a sequel to Vanish, in which Conner Hayden survived a near-death experience. Now as Conner is putting his life back together, he is certain he lived to help the souls he met in the Interworld, a dimension souls pass through while crossing from life to death. Conner goes on a mission to reach out to the souls he met: Devon, a troubled teen who was also brought back to life; Mitch, who is in coma; and Howard, who also is in coma. Mitch struggles to survive in the Interworld, where he faces his own nightmares, and Howard, who isn’t who he appears to be. The two worlds intertwine with the heart-racing plots ending in a startling conclusion.
With their balanced actions and personal development, Pawlik’s characters are likeable and believable. The Christian couples give a good example of faith, showing communication together in prayer. The details of the Interworld give the reader a clear vision of the dimension without coming off as a cheap science fiction rejection. Overall, the novel is very well written. Readers will be pulled through the story, yearning to find out what is going to happen next while caring for the characters and wishing the best for them. The most powerful scene takes place in the Interworld when Mitch realizes what has been chasing him and how to break free from it. I think a biblical passage that reflects this book is one that is used near the end of the novel, Psalms 23. The story takes the characters through the valley and into the green pastures.
I was thrown off at the ending of this book. It was an ending that I was not expecting, but one that worked out very well. I think the book packs a powerful message that many people can enjoy. The suspense was excellent and caused me not to want to put the book down at all once I started reading. Valley of the Shadow is highly recommended to the mixed gender audience and for the pre-teen and above reading level. – Timothy J. Steece, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Conner fought his way through the woods. Tendrils of mist curled around his legs like serpents seeking to pull him to the ground. But he had to keep going.
He had been here before.
He heard no voices this time. No ghostly whispers from the dark, save one. One single, moaning plea. Help me!
A shadowy world between life and death, where your worst fears can become reality. One man lingers on the threshold. Another has escaped, but he didn’t come back alone. And a third searches for answers as his nightmares draw him back.
Sometimes, to get to the truth, you have to walk through the valley.