As a Christian and an avid reader, I am definitely a lover and strong supporter of Believers who write speculative fiction—especially those who write it well. When I was first introduced to Kingdom Come I immediately loved the title. Before you crack open the book it gave you a firm understanding that there is some sort of message of faith behind the cover.
Kingdom Come is an action, battle-based supernatural book. It has demon hunting, warfare, and self-discovery tangled into one novel for readers of all beliefs and interests to enjoy. One of the things I liked very much was the clever way Coogle wove basic Christian beliefs into his writing. The main antagonist is the ‘demon lord Baal’ which immediately jumped out to me because Baal worship is one of the common pagan beliefs repeatedly mentioned in the Bible, so it was definitely cool to see the light and the darkness from the Word put into play here. One of the things you get tired of seeing in Christian fantasy is the devil. That sounds weird to say but he’s always the bad guy—and in Christian fantasy, who else should it be, right? Using Baal was so simple it was almost genius. I loved that little detail right from the start.
The main characters were an entertaining lot. I didn’t particularly like or dislike any of them…I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Everyone played the role they were assigned in the story and kept the plot moving in the right direction. Jason definitely brought in a lot of layers and development which I really appreciated. This is something that may sound odd to readers, but it was kind of hard not to be reminded of Naruto when I read this story. There are MASSIVE differences between the two stories, but the way Jason behaved was definitely reminiscent of the goofy, awkward, sometimes dumb protagonist of Naruto.
The good versus evil aspect was very strong in this book but the message and use of spirituality gave it that extra spice—it was just enough to keep me reading and more than enough to make Kingdom Come a standout book amongst others in this genre. Don’t get me wrong, this was a great story and I highly recommend it to others but as much as I enjoyed it, I have to include the ugly parts in my review.
I mentioned earlier that I didn’t really like or dislike any of the characters. I think they felt more like ‘roles’ in the story rather than people with feelings and emotions. This character is here to challenge Jason. This character is here to encourage him. This character is going to be evil. This character will be good… granted, this story was heavily saturated in layers upon layers of world building, biblical inclusion, and creativity, so there is obviously an expectation that some areas will lack while others prevail. BUT I just wanted a little more connection to the cast.
My last point is probably my biggest complaint—which I’d like to say isn’t really a complaint or criticism but more of an observation worth noting. I noticed a lot of ties with the Catholic faith included in the book. As part of creative structure, I see a lot of Christian fantasy authors use things like Priests, the Vatican, even rosary beads in their writing because those are visually striking and easy to understand for readers of all backgrounds. I don’t really care that a Christian author uses Catholic references and aspects, but I do care that those Catholic references and aspects get passed off as being part of the Christian faith.
Contrary to what entertainment and social media might have us believe, the Catholic religion and Christianity are not the same belief system. At all. I’m not saying Coogle tried to right off Catholic beliefs as Christian—not at all—BUT there is definitely opportunity for readers to get them confused.
Jason is apparently a Protestant while there are many Catholic characters around him throughout the story. It seemed to me like that sort of mix would have ignited a lot of derision if not simple disagreements amongst cast members but Coogle keeps things organized. Maybe a theological breakdown and debate was not the point of him including the two belief systems but then … why mix them at all if not to highlight and examine their differences? It just seems like two faiths are thrown together for the sake of having two faiths in one book. No real reason behind it. A Catholic setup and structure with Christian themes.
All in all, when I read Christian fiction, I like for it to be Christian fiction. I also enjoy some Catholic fiction reads every now and again, but I’d like to know ahead of time when I’m walking into a religious mash up, that’s all.
Other than that tidbit, I really did like this book and I hope to see more from Coogle in the future. Catholic, Christian, whatever…Kingdom Come is a wonderful and welcome addition to the fantasy genre.