Published by FaithWords on September 12, 2008
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Thriller, Speculative
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With masterful storytelling, Travis Thrasher draws readers into a novel so gripping it cannot be put down. James Miller is a burned-out missionary whose time on the mission field in Papua New Guinea left him exhausted and disillusioned. His wife, Stephanie, feels like she's losing her mind. After moving to North Carolina, Stephanie begins seeing strange and frightening things: blood dripping down the walls, one of her children suffocating. Premonitions, she's sure, of what's to come.
As the visions and haunting images intensify, Stephanie asks her brother to come for a much-needed visit--but he's hiding secrets of his own that will prove more destructive than Stephanie can imagine. Nine-year-old Zachary sees his family's move as an adventure, and as he explores the new house, he discovers every young boy's dream: secret passageways and hidden rooms. But what seems exciting at first quickly becomes altogether frightening. When a snowstorm traps the Millers, the supernatural dangers of their new home will test everything they thought they knew about each other, and about their faith.
Life was supposed to be normal when James Miller got back from his missionary stint in Papua New Guinea. Spiritual oppression over there was heavy and he had been worn thin fighting it. Here they had electricity, air conditioning, and no demonic oppression right? Life would be good.
But his wife Stephanie is not experiencing life as normal. She thinks she’s losing her mind. She dreams of blood running down the walls of their room, she awakes from sleepwalking standing over her sleeping son with a knife in her hand, she has a vision of one of her children suffocating. Are these premonitions of what’s to come? And does it have anything to do with her repressed childhood?
To get away from all the stress, they move to a missionary’s retreat in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s a veritable mansion with a dark and secret past. The Miller’s son Zachary finds all sorts of secret passageways and hidden rooms, but not everything he finds is exciting. When a snowstorm traps the Millers, they find they are not the only ones in the mansion. A killer is lurking somewhere – a killer intent on destroying the Miller’s already fragile faith. They soon find themselves face to face with a demon in a house of horrors. The only question is, can the Miller’s stay alive, both physically and spiritually?
Travis Thrasher gives us something unique in Isolation. It’s the pinnacle of Christian horror, able to tell a story of demonic possession and oppression while able to keep the story within the bounds of reality. The suspense in palpable and the sense of horror is terrifyingly real. But Thrasher brings us up from the depths in an explosion of light that highlights hope and redemption.
Isolation, in its theme and general framework, reminds me of the novels (and movies) House by Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti and The Shining by Stephen King. Thrasher bests these three big names in writing through a well-written and thoroughly-terrifying story that ultimately heightens the reader’s sense of God’s great love for us.
It’s genuinely scary with a genuinely redemptive message. A great read, perhaps not for the faint of heart, but definitely not to be missed.
Mini Q&A with Travis
Josh: Isolation grapples with several dark themes including demonic activity and spiritual warfare. While your novels had been getting increasingly edgier over the years, Isolation, by introducing a dark supernatural element, really topped them all. What made you want to write in the supernatural thriller genre, the genre you’re probably best known for?
Travis: I’ve always enjoyed this genre with both books and movies. I just don’t think the market would have been as open to me writing something like this in 2000 (when my first novel was published). I don’t think I was ready to write a novel like Isolation either. I got the green light on this story and I’m glad I wrote it, even though it was a hard one to write.
Josh: How much of this story was influenced by Stephen King’s novel The Shining?
Travis: My pitch was “I want to write my version of The Shining.” But it’s funny–right before FaithWords decided to publish it, they wanted to see a rundown of how the two stories are different. They’re night and day different. The only similar thing is the premise: a family stuck in a snowbound location ends up being attacked by supernatural entities. If someone has a problem that they’re so similar, I’d say that King himself has openly done his versions of classic supernatural tales. I could never copy The Shining. All I can do is my take on a premise like that.
Josh: This novel was your first published by Faith Words. How did you end up being published by them?
Travis: I’ve shared this on my blog. The original published was going to be Moody Publishers, but they decided to cancel it at the 11th hour. Those things happen in publishing. That cancelled book opened a door to being published by FaithWords, and I’m grateful for that. I talk about this a lot, but as a writer you never know which doors will open and close. I’m fortunate doors keep opening for my stories.