the unholy book coverReviewed by Nina Longfield

Paul DeBlassie’s novel, The Unholy, begins in an unknown past. A young, unnamed girl watches a horrific event. On a dark night in the wild mountains, amongst the horror that she witnesses, there is magic in the night to protect her. The novel shifts to a contemporary scene and introduces Claire Sanchez, director of mental health workers at the Ecclesia Dei Psychiatric Hospital on the Aztlan Plaza.

The Unholy is a novel of haunted souls. Claire Sanchez is intelligent, insightful, difficult to know, and evading both her past and her future. She lives on the Aztlan Plaza at the base of the high-mountain desert, considered by natives to be the naval of the world. It is here in Aztlan that varying cultures come together, some blend, some resist, some conflict. Claire’s past leaves her wary of the priests of the Ecclesia Dei. These are the men in black requiring complete obeisance and monetary salvation. The Ecclesia Dei is led by a cunning, sharp thinking, ruthless Archbishop Anarch. The Archbishop is a man of determination. He builds a holy empire within the Aztlan helping the poor but also living a luxuriant life on his holy rewards.

Claire’s guardian, Francesca, is an Aztlan medicine woman, mestizas, like Claire’s mother, Lucia, was. Francesca guides Claire and gives Claire grounding as the conflicting forces of Claire’s life threaten to destroy her. Francesca is wise in the ancient teachings of the mestizas and waits patiently as Claire determines her destiny. It is Francesca who warns Claire that Archbishop Anarch is seeking information about her and begins to shows Claire a mystery surrounding the Ecclesia Dei.

The Unholy is an intriguing story melding together the mythology of Aztlan medicine women, the mystery of a past event with the contemporary work of a young mental health worker, and a secret surrounding the wealthy priestly order of Ecclesia Dei. Paul DeBlassie III has a keen eye for detail describing the characters and settings of his novel, The Unholy, with deft skill. This descriptive imagery is also at times a downside to the novel as the descriptions of every detail removes the reader from the immediacy of the building action. These scenes resolve themselves as the story continues leading deeper into the story and the reasons behind the mystery.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Paul DeBlassie. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.