Soul’s Gate – James Rubart

Soul's Gate James Rubart
Soul's Gate by James L. Rubart
Series: Wellspring #1
Published by Thomas Nelson on April 10, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Speculative
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three-stars

“Every now and then we get a break from reality. A glimpse into the other world that is more real than the reality we live in 99 percent of our days. The Bible is about a world of demons and angels and great evil and even greater glory.”

What if you could travel inside another person’s soul?

To battle for them. To be part of Jesus healing their deepest wounds. To help set them free to step boldly into their divinely designed future. Thirty years ago that’s exactly what Reece Roth did. Until tragedy shattered his life and ripped away his future. Now God has drawn Reece out of the shadows to fulfill a prophecy spoken over him three decades ago. A prophecy about four warriors with the potential to change the world . . . if Reece will face his deepest regret and teach them what he has learned.
They gather at a secluded and mysterious ranch deep in the mountains of Colorado, where they will learn to see the spiritual world around them with stunning clarity — and how to step into the supernatural.

Their training is only the beginning. The four have a destiny to pursue a freedom even Reece doesn’t fully fathom. But they have an enemy hell-bent on destroying them and he’ll stop at nothing to keep them from their quest for true freedom and the coming battle of souls.

Before Jesus left this earth, he promised that his followers would do miracles greater than the ones he performed. And for the first few centuries of the church, this was true. Faith that can move mountains—was it meant to be a metaphor or a reality? To a mystic named Reece Roth, all of Jesus’ promises still apply. He knows because he walks in them. He knows the brokenness of the human soul. He’s been inside, battled for them, helped set them free. And now, although it has been decades since he’s been inside a soul, he follows the calling of God to train a new group of believers to step into the supernatural.

I’ll be blunt. I’ve not been a fan of Rubart’s books. I read his first two books—Rooms and The Chair—based on the recommendation of friends and, frankly, I don’t know why his books have been so highly endorsed. Maybe they saw potential. Because while I felt like Rubart’s previous books were interesting premises with poor execution, Soul’s Gate actually shows some solid writing. It’s not perfect, but it’s a marked improvement from Rubart’s previous work, and good enough he may have hooked me back in.

At the core of Soul’s Gate is Reece Roth, a mystic who returns to the forefront of spiritual warfare after a thirty year hiatus after his mistakes caused an unspeakable tragedy. He gathers a small group of people and calls them to train at a secluded ranch deep in the mountains of Colorado. First person is Brandon Scott, a Christian rock star who’s faltering in his faith. Second is Marcus Amber, a brilliant physicist and specialist in quantum mechanics. Third is Dana Raine, a radio ad exec, who has former romantic connections to Brandon. Fourth in Tamera, a personal trainer, but she bails out on them early, leaving the prophecy Reese had received about four warriors in question.

After just a while at the ranch and not really much in the way of new information or spiritual maturation, Reese decides his group is ready to enter souls. And so they do. They hold hands and pray and suddenly they’re inside the soul. Dana, Marcus, and Brandon can see all the regrets and pains and troubles and soon learn that they are there to defeat those negative images and set the individual free. In one very compelling scene, the group—Dana, Brandon, and Reese—enter Brandon’s soul and encounter all of his regrets at letting his academic life overtake his family life. Together they manage to change his thoughts, release him from his chains, and leave him free of all his past regret. It’s a powerful scene, possibly the book’s best, and showcases what Rubart is capable of. But something bothers me about it. Brandon is a Christian. He has faith enough to jump into souls…and yet we encounter demons in his soul without a trace of the Spirit?

Further, Rubart makes no qualms that he’s taking ideas from The Matrix, spending a couple paragraphs having a character summarize the movie after having Reece suggest earlier in the book that his charges watch the movie in preparation. But of course, this is totally different because it’s with the Holy Spirit. I realize there are going to be common themes and plot devices always, but I wish Rubart hadn’t felt the need to spell it out. To quote the book “the difference is, this is real”…but we as readers know it’s actually being said in context of a fictional novel. If he wanted to name drop it, fine. But there’s no need for a complete movie summary. Find a way to tell the story that doesn’t involve someone else’s story.

Soul’s Gate concludes rather predictably. Relationships have been restored, Reese has been released from the regrets of his past, and the group stands ready for further adventures in book two. Maybe I’m harsh on Rubart here because I’ve been soured by his previous offerings, but Soul’s Gate continues the pattern: great premises with substandard writing. Soul’s Gate is a massive improvement and, aside from a few things, a really good novel. It may not be for everyone, but if someone asked me to recommend a Rubart novel, this is the only one I’d give them.

three-stars

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