Reading Jerel Law’s recent novel Spirit Fighter was like a blast to my Frank Peretti-reading past (minus all the nightmares, thankfully).

Like Peretti did so engagingly with This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness and Prophet, Law gives the reader a window into a world where angels and demons not only co-exist but play a significant role in everyday realities.

Trouble is, as many things that Law gets right in Spirit Fighter, particularly with tackling the prickly sorts of questions that naturally come when addressing the problem of evil and God’s role in that, the actual storytelling in Spirit Fighter is more serviceable than exciting.

Unlike Peretti’s work or its mainstream young adult fiction counterparts such as Harry Potter or Percy Jackson The Lightning Thief, Spirit Fighter simply doesn’t have that I-can’t-wait-to-finish-this quality. Basically, it’s good but not great.

For one, Spirit Fighter favors pretty preachy dialogue where Bible verses are quoted verbatim in regular conversation and the reader is basically hammered over the head with the story’s underlying message. Instead of employing the subtlety of a C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien or even J.K. Rowling, Law’s more bombastic take on spirituality doesn’t leave much room for the reader to think for his/herself. No doubt, Christian fiction has made colossal leaps in this regard, but one wouldn’t often know it from Spirit Fighter.

Another weakness is that unlike the aforementioned writers who’ve sold gazillion copies of their work, you never feel like you’re transported to a new world in Spirit Fighter. For a story about the unseen world of angels and demons, it often lacks imagination and doesn’t feel all that different from Planet Earth as we know it. Great fiction has the ability to draw people into new realities that provoke the mind, and unfortunately, Spirit Fighter doesn’t always accomplish that.

Lest you think Spirit Fighter isn’t worth your time, there are turns of phrase and plot that warrant the masses’ attention. But in terms of fantasy writing that really dazzles and has a worthwhile message, Spirit Fighter is more middle of the road. In its best moments, however, there’s loads of potential that you hope Law will capitalize on the next time around.

*This Review Published 11/18/2013