In just a few short weeks, on February 7th, the second book in The Coming Evil Trilogy--Enemies of the Cross--will be invading bookstores across the nation. Can you believe it? For some of you, you've waited a whole year for this book. For those of you who bought the original self-published version of The Strange Man, you've been waiting since 2007! For me, I've been waiting since 1999!! I'm extremely excited that the trilogy is finally moving along, at long last.
To better equip you for February 7th, I've prepared a helpful guide to give you a crash course in the world of The Coming Evil. Whether you've read The Strange Man and need a refresher, or whether you've never heard of this story and you're ready to jump into Enemies of the Cross blind, here's everything you need to know about Book One to get ready for Book Two.
Obviously, this thing is full of spoilers, so if you've yet to read The Strange Man, you still have plenty of time to order your copy and get it read before Enemies of the Cross is unveiled. The book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, and for you e-readers, it's also on the Nook and Kindle!
Ah, enough plugging. On with the guide:
In The Strange Man, we are introduced to the small country town of Greensboro, a once-thriving community that served as the last stop on the way to the City, but has now fallen on hard times since the highway was moved. Shops have closed up, jobs have been lost, and families are struggling. At a time when the collective mood of Greensboro is one of apathy and bitterness, it is the perfect striking point for the demon known only as "the Strange Man".
For over a hundred years, the people of Greensboro have told stories of a cadre of monsters lurking in the North Woods. But now those stories take on a whole new meaning as the Strange Man and his horde of flesh-eating gremlins descend upon the brittle town during the night of the terrible storm. The Strange Man was banished to the North Woods long ago by the faith of the town's forefathers and, now that that faith has diminished, he is ready to exact his revenge from the shadows.
His first victim is Eldon Granger, a homeless man living in the North Woods, who tells half-true ghost stories to the local children. Next is Lindsey McCormick, a pretty young woman whose car is found at the bottom of Greensboro Park Lake. Her body is never recovered. The demon also visits the bedroom window of five-year-old Millie Walker, though no one will believe her chilling tale.
As the rain pours, the Strange Man encounters The Rave Scene, a hangout for young twenty-somethings looking to escape their dreary small town life. It is here that the demon fixates on Rosalyn Myers--an outsider in Greensboro, haunted by the memory of her father who committed suicide years ago. The bogeyman is attracted to Rosalyn and seeks to corrupt her. However, there is someone standing in his way: Dras Weldon.
Dras is a foolish young man who's refused to grow up. His is a life of monster movies and comic books. He lives life only for himself, drinking away his nights and sleeping away his days--much to the disapproval of his older brother, Reverend Jeff Weldon. Jeff and his wife Isabella have tried to get Dras to commit to the faith he once claimed as a child and return to the Good Church of the Faithful, where Jack Weldon--the boys' dying father--served as pastor for years. Dras is content to live in eternal adolescence, but is forced to face reality when the Strange Man approaches him. What Dras doesn't know is that he is marked by God and the Strange Man cannot destroy him. Instead, the demon hopes to remove the boy from Rosalyn's life by threatening him. Terrified by a head-on confrontation with a creature he believed was only a story, Dras briefly considers the Strange Man's offer to leave town and save his life.
But, with Rosalyn's soul hanging in the balance, Dras rises to the challenge of standing up to the monster who would harm his best friend.
Sobering up, he puts aside his immaturity and attempts to share his faith with Rosalyn, an effort that is an utter failure thanks to Dras' lifelong hypocrisy. Time is running out as night falls, and Dras tries to convince his brother to help him in his battle. But after a lifetime of being disappointed by Dras' actions and attitudes, Jeff refuses aid. Hurt by the dismissal, Dras strikes out on his own, facing down the Strange Man's demonic brood of gremlins. The monsters chase after Dras, tearing through Main Street, but by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Scriptures, Dras manages to survive in time to reach Rosalyn's side at The Rave Scene, where she's gone to blow off some steam.
However, in retaliation for Dras' defiance, the Strange Man orchestrates a plot to frame Dras for the mysterious disappearance of Lindsey McCormick and the murders of Deputy Dane Adams and little Millie's older brother TJ Walker--all victims of the demon's cruelty. The bogeyman petrifies Millie into corroborating his story to Sheriff Hank Berkley, a tired man who's just barely keeping the town together in the midst of this bizarre onslaught. While the town comes alive with talk of "gremlins", Hank struggles to make sense of it all. Dras pleads with him via radio that the bogeyman from the old stories is real and has returned, but refuses to turn himself in for the crimes he knows he didn't commit.
Dras confronts Rosalyn one last time in The Rave Scene, pleading with her to listen to him--to turn herself over to God in order to be saved from the monster's plans. Before Dras is able to finish, however, Deputy Ryan Stevenson and a band of angry lawmen arrive to arrest Dras for the murders they believe he's committed. Dras decides that he can't run forever. The Strange Man has him trapped, but Dras believes God can bring some good out of it. Praying that he's told Rosalyn enough that she can carry on the battle without him, Dras surrenders himself to the police--who viciously beat him. Even when Jeff, having come to his senses and deciding to help his brother, arrives with his wife Isabella, they can do little more but watch helplessly as Dras is beaten. Sheriff Berkley arrives and breaks up the carnage, and, as Dras' friends gather around his broken and still body, the Strange Man calls out to Rosalyn's spirit, tempting her to join him in the darkness.
But Rosalyn's eyes are only on Dras.
Defeated for now, the demon retreats to the North Woods and the lake where he murdered Lindsey McCormick. Her death has served as a catalyst, polluting the waters of Greensboro Park Lake and turning them thick and black. The Strange Man is angered by his personal setback, but knows that the real battle for the soul of Greensboro has only just begun...
To be continued in Enemies of the Cross, in stores February 7th!