Don’t read ISOLATION if you are easily creeped out. DO read it if you enjoy prickles-on-your-spine terror in the same vein as THE SHINING or THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Author Travis Thrasher has proven that his writing talents extend to spooky tales as artfully as they do to suspense, adventure and drama. But ISOLATION is far more than a scary story. It is a fictional account of a very real challenge in our world: spiritual warfare. Not merely good versus evil, but the Good verses the Evil. It is the ultimate example of what can happen when Christians let down their guard or allow a hole to open up in their armor.
Meet the Millers. Stephanie fears she is going insane as she experiences bizarre nightmares that feel far too real and daytime visions of things frightening and grotesque. Later, she realizes that some of those nightmares are actually childhood memories, locked away behind doors best left unopened. Her husband Jim needs a break from his missionary work, especially after witnessing deadly horrors for several months in Papua New Guinea that left him disillusioned, questioning whether God even cares or listens. Eight-year-old Zachary is worried about his mother’s strange behavior but never doubts that God is with all of them, even as he faces evil and death. Little Ashley, the youngest Miller, has simply experienced too much fear and sadness in her first five years of life.
Joining the Miller family is an old couple, Bob and Evelyn Patterson, caretakers of the North Carolina mansion in which the Millers will be living for a while. The mansion was built by a wealthy recluse, now deceased. And last, we have Paul, Stephanie’s brother, who joins the little group for a nice family visit.
ISOLATION has what every horror fan wants to read about: an all-American family who moves into a huge mansion with a mysterious forbidden wing, a woman who follows dark shadowy figures down desolate hallways instead of screaming for help, and a young boy who discovers hidden passageways and doesn’t tell anyone. After settling in at the mansion, with its demonic cold air and aura of evil, Jim meets the local sheriff who warns them of strange disappearances that have taken place there. But as in any book of this genre, the warning is not heeded.
When Evelyn goes missing and the three men (Jim, Bob and Paul) search for her, gruesome discoveries are made in the forbidden north wing. (Who would have thought?) Just when Jim thinks this might be a good time to leave, a major snowstorm hits, isolating them from the town below.
Even though some of the scenes are textbook horror, my guess is that fans of this genre wouldn’t want it any other way. There is something eerily enticing about a book that makes you mentally scream “No! Don’t go in the basement by yourself!” or “Stop! Don’t open that box!” and let’s not forget “Stay out of the room with the black walls and goat head on a stick!” But even with all its typical family-stuck-in-a-possessed-house stereotypes, ISOLATION has an interesting Christian twist. Faith is tested in a big way, and the evil one wins many a battle. The question is: Will he win the war?
Reviewed by Susan Miura on November 13, 2011