Brandon Tietz “Good Sex, Great Prayers” Review

Posted: December 1, 2014 in Uncategorized
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BOOK INFO

Publisher: Perfect Edge Books

Length: 435 Pages

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

This year has been full of truly original and entertaining horror novels and Brandon Tietz’s latest, Good Sex, Great Prayers, definitely falls into that category. Focusing on the small town of Pratt, Tietz’s novel tells the story of Father Johnstone, a devout pastor who finds himself losing his congregation after he begins exhibiting strange behavior that is seemingly out of his control. He dispenses vulgar marriage advice, delivers blasphemous sermons and finds himself in compromising situations that find him questioning his health and sanity. Things begin to escalate when Johnstone begins having nightmares, battling insomnia and finally passing out at the Pratt bake sale with blood pouring from his nose. Father Johnstone is a pillar of the community and his out of character behavior hints at a sinister force at work.

Madeline Paige is the town’s newest resident and comes to Pratt after her reclusive aunt passes away and leaves her all of her possessions. Madeline is a young woman who is seen as an outsider and has already traveled around much of the world despite her young age. The men of Pratt are all infatuated with her and the women of the town are jealous of her adventures around the world, often stopping by for a glass of wine to listen to stories of her travels and share gossip. Despite Pratt’s reluctance to fully embrace outsiders, Madeline seems to have a hold over the townspeople and seamlessly slips into the fabric that makes up the community. She develops a close relationship with the pastor despite their numerous ideological differences and it is clear that she has secrets that may just hold the key to who or what is hellbent on ruining Johnstone’s life.

The book is broken up into various segments: The narrative that follows Father Johnstone and the events going on in Pratt, the inner monologues of a mysterious man who inflicts horrific violence on sex workers across the country, excerpts on fertilization rituals and sermons delivered by the truck stop preacher Billy Burke. The structure of the novel may seem a bit random at first, but every section is connected and that becomes clearer throughout the novel. The pacing of Good Sex, Great Prayers is what I would categorize as a “slow-burn”. Tietz builds the tension and mystery that courses through Good Sex, Great Prayers slowly, giving little hints here and there through the struggles that Johnstone faces and the history lessons Madeline gives to Johnstone later in the novel. However, once all of the sections converge and the reader makes the connection of how they all fit together, the novel hits full throttle and has an explosive conclusion that rewards close reading and is one of the most memorable I have read in awhile.

Tietz does an excellent job of building the setting of Pratt in this novel, and that is one of the most effective aspects of this novel. Tietz brings the town of Pratt to life and you feel like you actually know the town and its residents. Secondary characters are built up to an impressive degree and Good Sex, Great Prayers is one of the first novels that fully drew me in from a world-building standpoint since Stephen King’s Under The Dome.

It is hard to talk about some of the major plot points of Good Sex, Great Prayers without spoiling the journey for readers as one of the strong points of the novel is the sense of mystery Tietz manages to build throughout the course of the novel. As a longtime horror fan, I have been exposed to just about every form of monster, ghost, creature, and other source of evil under the sun, so it is hard to genuinely be in the dark about the antagonist of a novel. Often times I at least have an inkling of who or what is responsible for causing havoc in a story long before reaching the final page, but Tietz’s novel cleverly disguises the source of the evil destroying Pratt for most of the novel. What I can say is this – Tietz manages to take a pretty well known horror subject and offer a fresh spin on the mythology behind it.

While some people may not like the sexual or religious elements found in Good Sex, Great Prayers,  there is no denying that Tietz is an extraordinary writer who can tell one hell of a story. I am definitely looking forward to reading whatever Tietz comes up with next, and I hope he has more horror stories left to tell because he could offer many new and fresh perspectives.

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Brandon Tietz’s Official Website

Perfect Edge Books

Purchase Good Sex, Great Prayers on Amazon

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