What makes you pick up a book? A cool cover? A recommendation from a trusted friend? A good price?
Do you ever decide to read a book that you aren't quite sure about? Maybe it's to appease a friend who won't stop raving about a particular book, but has given you not-so-hot recommendations in the past. Maybe it's to see what all the fuss is about, or just maybe it's because you're expecting an absolute train wreck and want to see how it turns out.
I can't say for sure what drew me to Brandon Tietz's GOOD SEX, GREAT PRAYERS–but more than likely it was a combination of all these things. By now, I know to expect fantastically written and wonderfully different books from the Perfect Edge publishing house, but a book billed as Christian Erotica, and with THAT title no less?
The synopsis was well written and sounded pretty okay, so I very hesitantly decided to give it a try…
…And I was met with one of the absolute best books I've read in quite some time–a year? Two? Three?
It's true, I don't think the genre or the title do this book the justice it deserves. I'm not sure what I'd rename it, but genre-wise this is definitely dark literary fiction at its finest–with some magical realism thrown in for fun.
I fell into the world of GOOD SEX, GREAT PRAYERS almost immediately. Father Johnstone is a very likable and relatable character, and some very strange/ horrifying things are happening to him. It turns out he's been cursed by a powerful witchcraft practitioner, and now the whole town is at risk of being wiped clean off the map.
Father Johnstone must team up with Madeline Paige, a woman who I'd describe as kind and pure despite her promiscuity and belief in witchcraft. Like Glenda of the North, she's a good witch. And the ways the author combines Catholicism and witchcraft is genius but also very respectful. Having been raised in a religious home, I surprisingly didn't find this book offensive, although I've found many other secular books with Christian characters to be done poorly and inaccurately.
So back to the action… The bad guy draws nearer, and we are afforded occasional glimpses into his evil guy doings. Let me tell you, this is some of the most disgusting, deranged stuff I've ever read (right up there with Chuck Palahniuk's GUTS, but maybe worse because this guy is hurting other people instead of himself). The grotesqueness of it all only adds to the horror, knowing that this monster is approaching our heroes.
The final confrontation is perfectly done, and I don't throw that word around casually. Threads and characters you may have forgotten about come back to weave their threads, and as a reader, you know this is the way it had to end all along–but you probably won't figure it out before the end, which leaves things amazingly, rapid-page-turning awesome.
While this isn't my usual reading fare, GOOD SEX, GREAT PRAYERS breathed some much-needed freshness into my bookish life. The title may not appeal to you either, but please give it a shot. It's THAT good.
About the book: Pratt has fallen upon strange times. Father Johnstone, who’s served at the helm for the past thirty years, has begun to lose his flock. He dispenses poor marital advice and indulges in the company of lusting widows, both of which he can hardly remember doing. The pastor has never felt more unlike himself, and Madeline Paige—the town’s newest resident—believes she knows the reason. What she reveals will compromise everything Father Johnstone has ever known. Meanwhile, two men beyond Pratt’s county lines administer their own brand of faith. Billy Burke, the truck-stop preacher, tours the Bible Belt advising blue-collar workers how to properly assault a meth-hooker and the best way to protest gay nightclubs. He’s destined to meet a man that’s been operating out of Las Vegas under many different names, experimenting on a myriad of escorts using Christian lingerie, pious role-play, and Biblical paraphernalia. Together, they will push the threshold, and the town of Pratt will serve as the battleground for when faiths clash and lives hang in the balance. Get Good Sex, Great Prayers through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
About the author: Brandon Tietz is the author of Out of Touch and Good Sex, Great Prayers. His short stories have been widely published, appearing in Warmed and Bound, Amsterdamned If You Do, Spark (vol. II), and Burnt Tongues, the Chuck Palahniuk anthology. He's also a columnist at LitReactor.com. Connect with Brandon on his website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads.