Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: "The 49th Mystic" by Ted Dekker

I first "met" Ted Dekker in 2004 when my college roommate gave me a copy of Black, the first book in the Circle Trilogy (which later became a four-book series, but I prefer to think of it as just the three books).

For a while, I read everything Dekker wrote, and the twist endings he's a master of still awe me (hello, Skin and Three!), but after a while his books became a little too much for me. Boneman's Daughters was the final straw, and I drifted away from his writing. But a couple years ago, I heard about A.D. 30 and A.D. 33, biblical fiction set during Jesus' ministry. I really enjoyed both of those books, which made me more inclined to check out the Beyond the Circle series, of which The 49th Mystic is the first.



Some say the great mystery of how one can live in two worlds at once died with Thomas Hunter many years ago. Still others that the gateway to that greater reality was and is only the stuff of dreams.

They are wrong. In the small town of Eden, Utah, a blind girl named Rachelle Matthews is about to find out just how wrong.

When a procedure meant to restore Rachelle's sight goes awry, she begins to dream of another world so real that she wonders if Earth might only be a dream experienced when she falls asleep in that reality. Who is a simple blind girl to have such strange and fantastic dreams?

She's the prophesied one who must find and recover five ancient seals--in both worlds--before powerful enemies destroy her. If Rachelle succeeds in her quest, peace will reign. If she fails, both worlds will forever be locked in darkness.

So begins a two-volume saga of high stakes and a mind-bending quest to find an ancient path that will save humanity. The clock is ticking; the end rushes forward.

Ready? Set?

Dream.




What to say about this book? In some ways, it feels like a return to the books that made me a Dekker fan in the first place. The 49th Mystic is clearly connected to the original Circle books (along with many other Dekker novels). Rachelle, like Thomas Hunter in that first series, travels between worlds (or perhaps backwards and forwards in time?) by dreaming. Falling asleep in her idyllic town in Utah, she wakes in an unknown land 2000 years in the future, where she meets two Roush, a man named Justin, Horde warriors, Samuel of Hunter, and Shataiki. All of these will be familiar to readers of the Circle series. Rachelle learns she's a Mystic, the 49th Mystic, and this makes her capable of saving both the world as we know it and the future world.

I enjoyed Rachelle's journey—it has a very familiar feel to it, one that long-time Dekker readers will appreciate. The story contains a trademark Dekker twist, which I enjoyed. But I'm still torn when thinking about what I just read because of one thing: the theology presented in the book.

When I read Black, Red, and White, I remember being challenged by Dekker's presentation of God, faith, and the gospel. But never once did anything feel "off" to me. That's not the case here. While there is undoubtedly Truth contained in the pages of The 49th Mystic, Dekker's version of truth seems to contain elements of mysticism, New Age, and perhaps even universalism. I'm not saying that Dekker is necessarily wrong about anything that he says—I would need to study that out for myself—but I would say to proceed with caution.

I know that Dekker has written a non-fiction book called The Forgotten Way where he clearly lays out his spiritual journey and beliefs; I haven't read that book, but I'm guessing that a couple chapters are largely taken from that work. They certainly read more like non-fiction with a little story stuck into it, and those chapters don't flow as well as the others in the book do. I would also say that I've never been a fan of "preachy" fiction, and this certainly feels preachy at times.

Overall, I'm glad I read The 49th Mystic. I've enjoyed the return to the world Dekker created long ago and I'm looking forward to the next book. I just can't wholeheartedly recommend it. 3 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Dekker's A.D. 30 Abridged (5 stars), A.D. 33 (4-1/2 stars), Green, Immanuel's Veins, Forbidden (written with Tosca Lee), and Tea with Hezbolla (written with Carl Medearis).



Ted Dekker is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. He was born in the jungles of Indonesia to missionary parents, and his upbringing as a stranger in a fascinating and sometimes frightening culture fueled his imagination. Dekker's passion is simple--to explore truth through mind-bending stories that invite readers to see the world through a different lens. His fiction has been honored with numerous awards, including two Christy Awards, two Inspy Awards, an RT Reviewers' Choice Award, and an ECPA Gold Medallion. In 2013, NPR readers nationwide put him in the Top 50 Thriller Authors of All Time. Dekker lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Lee Ann.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell through the Revell Reads program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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