Evangelical religion, supernatural forces, and romance seldom collide under a single cover and more often serve as individual topics in genre reads; but This Madness of the Heart combines all three forces and more in a gripping piece that holds the rare ability to grasp and attract reader attention from more than one direction.
Miranda Lamden is a small-town professor of religion in Kentucky, but her real dilemma lies in the fact that she also has a supernatural power that places her squarely in opposition to the evangelical forces at work in her community.
When Jasper Jarboe embarks on a zealous mission to convert her forest home and sanctuary into a glaring commercial Mecca for evangelical purposes, Miranda's probe into supernatural forces are challenged on many levels.
Her research into spiritual congregations doesn't come from an atheist's perspective: even as she holds herself apart for the sake of scholarly inspection, she also feels a connection to community spirit.
But she'll only go so far: she doesn't agree with religion when it goes awry, threatens everything she loves, and especially when other mountain superstitions and faiths are about to be dominated and overrun through the efforts of one dangerous zealot's mission to destroy competing belief systems.
Mood and setting are exquisitely placed throughout the story, and as Miranda becomes involved in helping Djinn, faces political pressures at her college, and crosses the line between personal and professional involvements, her life twists with changes, as well.
This Madness of the Heart circles around a number of disparate forces at odds with each other. Group psychosis, mob mentality, prejudice, scholarly inspection versus emotional involvement, curses and ghosts permeate a plot that moves deftly between opposing forces with the skill of a thriller, the stealth of a cat, and the fine-tuned precision of personalities well developed.
The result is a blend of supernatural thriller, romance, and mystery that will thoroughly engross anyone looking to break free of genre reads with a powerful journey through competing spiritual perspectives.