To all my Christian friends who “hate” horror:
I’m going to tell you a horror story. Don’t worry, you’ll like it.
There once lived a man who taught people to love another and to help the needy. He was good to everyone, but one of his friends betrayed him. The good man was punished for the crimes of others, whipped, mocked, suffered excruciating pain, and . . . was crucified.
But, because of his goodness and suffering, he was restored to perfection, and he offers the same hope and love to all of us.paraphrasing Michaelbrent Collings – international bestseller of horror
Horror can be one of the most Christian genres.
Don’t believe me? Try reading The Bible.
“Pets for Legion,” by Shawn D. Brink, is a great blending of Christianity and horror, exploring some of the horrors of reality while also showing the hope and rescue available through Jesus Christ.
Yes, it has some supernatural elements (like an impossibly strong golem), but let’s be real – the concept of Legion on its own is supernatural.
“Pets for Legion” refers to the New Testament story as Jesus encounters a man who’s possessed with not one demon, but “many.”
…there met [Jesus] out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,Mark 5:2-5, 9, The Bible (KJV)
Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
. . .
And [Jesus] asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
Creepy right? I mean, imagine what it would be like to have a malicious spirit wreaking havoc with your body. Now, multiply that by not just a “couple,” or a “few,” or “several,”. . . but “many” malicious spirits. According to Mark, these spirits were so awful that when Jesus cast them out of the man, they occupied a herd of 2,000 pigs (again, two-freakin’-thousand) who then committed suicide by running into the sea.
Sounds supernatural, right? But it’s the bible, even the word of God. I, for one, believe in demons and their ability to possess/influence people open to them. (Sure explains some of the wickedness in the world). I also believe God is greater and will help us overcome the wickedness if we are open to Him.
“Pets for Legion” plays a lot with the concept of demons influencing a man to do their bidding – even to collect innocent people for Legion to torture as “pets.” It also demonstrates the higher power of faith in God to overcome evil.
The story is largely non-denominational as one character is a teacher at Lutheran Parochial Elementary and another presides over a non-denominational congregation. As a Latter-day Saint Christian, I didn’t notice major controversial doctrines.
Typical to the horror genre, we have multiple point of view characters, including the villain. Also, we get relatable, every day, heroes who are accidentally sucked into battle against a seemingly all-powerful evil.
The story centers around Legion and their partnership with a man named Chief, but is focused on Sasha James when she saves a victim from Chief’s murderous plots. She’s instantly likable as she’s a teacher at a Christian elementary school who’s living off the cafeteria food at the school and bologna and mustard at home.
The next main character we meet is Reverend Xavier Hernandez. What’s a Christian horror without a preacher?
We see the point of view from a third every day hero, but I’ll omit his name for spoilers-sake.
“Pets for Legion” is written well enough with believable setting and characters. One of the hardest parts with horror is closing all the loopholes and plot holes, but Mr. Brink gave just enough explanation to keep the cat-and-mouse chase in high tension throughout the story.
This criteria alone makes it a solid 4 star. “Pets for Legion” was written well and perfectly fit expectations . . . but almost too perfectly. It didn’t surprise me or keep me thinking like my favorite horrors.
It did, however, give me a single thought of inspiration.
I’m one of those readers who likes to put myself in the characters’ positions and wonder, “What would I do if I was in their situation?” With Christian horrors, of course, I always like to think that I’d stay strong to my beliefs and face the horrors with faith. But this story got me thinking, “Would I?” I give into temptations more often than I’d like. I’m not facing down a Legion of demons, but one stupid temptation at a time . . . and I can do better.
That’s why I love horror. Because next time I recognize a seemingly simple and stupid temptation, I can picture Legion and pray to God for help.
For that bit of inspiration, I give “Pets for Legion” 4.3 stars.
PS. Reading a horror about Legion made me extra excited about Michaelbrent Collings’ upcoming book, Book 4 in his I Am Legion series (Amazon link), where Legion is the nickname of a chaotic good character. Here’s my review for Stranger Still.