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Parrish's Nightmare Explores the Spiritual Realm

  • Kelley Mathews Contributing Writer
  • Updated Oct 04, 2010
Parrish's <i>Nightmare</i> Explores the Spiritual Realm

Author:  Robin Parrish
Title:  Nightmare
Publisher:  Bethany House

Maia Peters, a college student intent on avoiding her past notoriety, has become a magnet for the curious stares and intrusive questions of anyone interested in the paranormal. The daughter of two world-renowned "ghost hunters," she's grown up very comfortable with the spirit realm, able to discern special effects from the real deal. But she's tired of it, even jaded to the whole concept. When she reluctantly visits Ghost Town, a popular amusement park, she's stunned to see the face of an old friend appear in the mist. A friend who has gone missing.

Jordin Cole, the missing girl, had hired Maia as her personal tour guide of the most haunted places in the country. During the past year they had visited numerous sites and experienced a high level of paranormal encounters. Maia knew that Jordan was skating close to the edge, seeking out more dangerous experiences with each venture. Now, back at school, Jordin is gone, and Maia is convinced she's just seen her specter.

Joined by Jordin's fiancé, Derek—a pastor's kid very much opposed to the girls' interest in the spiritual realm—Maia throws off her apathy, using everything she's learned about ghost hunting to help find Jordin. She and Derek battle nightmares, spiritual attacks, physical danger, and more as they race to find the answer before their friend is destroyed.

Whatever you believe about ghosts or paranormal activity, Nightmare will challenge you. It might even freak you out a little. Robin Parrish has created a readable, creative alternative to the secular writings populating bookstores today. If you or your friends crave vampires, werewolves and such, you'll enjoy exploring Nightmare's take on the otherworld. As the story builds toward its climax, be prepared for a few disturbing scenes. The author doesn't shy away from the evil side of the spirit realm.

In chronicling Jordin's search for answers, the author takes us on a history tour. His renderings of places such as New Orleans's St. Louis Cemetery, The Myrtles Plantation, The Stanley Hotel (inspiration for Stephen King's The Shining), and other historical sites were well researched, entertaining, and vivid. Parrish structured his story by cleverly alternating the past ghost tours with the present hunt for Jordin. The back-and-forth arrangement heightened the tension perfectly.

Driving Jordin's—and almost every person's—fascination with the spiritual realm is the question, "What happens after we die?" Maia doesn't pretend to have the answers. But she's a bit more openminded about the possibilities than Derek is. Derek starts off as a stereotypical Christian, full of warnings, doubts, skepticism, fear and respect—a healthy wariness of spiritual beings based on Scripture. But he is honest enough to acknowledge Maia's point—the Bible treats ghosts as real entities. (The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost when they saw him walking on water; the resurrected Jesus told the frightened disciples "touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and blood"; Saul and the Witch of Endor conjured up Samuel's ghost.) Maia prefers a faith that allows for mystery and does not claim to have all the answers. Readers will have to decide if they feel the same.

**This review first published on October 4, 2010.