Owen Edmonds is a typical senior at a not-so-typical high school. Eleven students at Masonville High School have committed suicide. Despite the media circus and hyper-alert teachers, Owen’s life remains largely unchanged. That is until he has an encounter with a strange man and drinks water from an empty well. After drinking the water, Owen begins to have delusions about an army of demonic forces preying on the students of his high school. He soon realizes these are not delusions; the fight between good and evil is real, and it is a fight to the death.
Owen embarks on a mission to figure out what his visions mean and how he can use them to stop the suicide epidemic. He uncovers secrets from the past and the hidden history of his own family. The action is fast-paced and the spiritual implication for readers run deep.
I attended youth group in the 90’s when Judgement Houses were a thing. They always started with an accident scene where two young people tragically lost their lives, usually due to drunk driving. Visitors walked through heaven where everything was bright and beautiful. Then, they would enter the next room with the thermostat turned up high and a gnarly gang of “demons.” One victim was a Christian and went to heaven, the other wasn’t so they went to hell. At the end, visitors were given a choice–heaven or hell. Pick one and pray, please. The purpose of these Christian horror houses was to scare the hell out of people.
I have a teenager of my own now. Things are different for young adults; evil attacks them at an entirely different level. The choice between heaven and hell doesn’t seem so black and white when muddled by a myriad of struggles.
By her thirteenth birthday, my daughter had a friend with an eating disorder, a friend who struggled with cutting, and attended a funeral after a classmate’s suicide. A Judgement House isn’t enough. Young adults need to be aware of the schemes of the devil. They need exposure to the truth of Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (NLT).
Laura Gallier’s young adult novel, The Delusion, is a literary depiction of this unseen good-versus-evil scenario. She does an incredible job of weaving the spirit world into reality. No cheesy heaven and hell scenes. Instead of a pitchfork-clad man in a red suit, Gallier paints a verbal picture of frightening demons. Light and darkness are juxtaposed in such a way that it seems all too possible that what she writes in a novel is, in fact, our reality. By the end of the novel, readers will be hypervigilant about the evil forces at work around them.
Gallier weaves spiritual truths throughout the novel, giving readers ammunition to fight against evil. The power of prayer is highlighted. When people pray, good triumphs evil. She doesn’t simply leave us with a description of demonic forces; she encourages believers to take action.
There had to be a way to liberate people, and I was betting Ray Anne held the key. As furious as I was with my mother, I’d free her if I could. And Jess, and Lance, and, if I knew how, all of humanity.
The Delusion isn’t a light-hearted read. The descriptions of demons and shackles are chilling. Gallier’s depiction of an unbeliever being drug to hell is frightening. While it might scare readers, hopefully, it will scare us into sharing Christ with others. “All I could think about was how badly I didn’t want to go there, how no human belonged there.” The realities of hell should drive us to action.
The Delusion speaks specifically to the lies and the mental and emotional struggles leading up to a suicide. This book has the potential to open the ears and hearts of someone struggling with suicidal thoughts. In fact, Gallier shares the story of one such rescue in a video on her website:
The Delusion is a young adult novel with a powerful message. No need to watch Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why to start a conversation about suicide with your teen. This book will address the true darkness behind suicide, bullying, and fear. Not only will it expose the darkness, it will offer the Light of hope.