Because I am interested in both astral projection and the timeless conflict between good and evil, I was intrigued by the premise of Andrew Feder's novel Spirit: What if you could astrally project? What if, the first time you tried, you found yourself trapped in the body of a stranger and covered in the blood of a woman that stranger had just murdered?
Multimillionaire, philanthropist, and New Age guru Randall Lender finds himself in this predicament; we learn early in the book that his astral mishap was engineered by a powerful agent of evil at the behest of a group called the Guilders, a secretive, Illuminati-like organization with an insatiable thirst for money and power. They have a finger in every potentially lucrative pie and an interest in keeping humankind under control through capitalism and traditional religion. They will do anything to increase their power, including harnessing dark occult forces--or enlisting those who can.
Lender is their target because, not only does he speak out in favor of individual spiritualism over organized religion, he has the means and charisma to influence others to embrace his views. To remove him as a threat, the Guilders have arranged to have Lender's soul trapped in the body of an infamous hit man, Johnny M., where it will ultimately be destroyed. Lender's own body, now soulless, slips into a coma. (It is not clear where Johnny M's soul is throughout the ordeal.)
The book is primarily a vehicle for the author's thoughts on spirituality and religion. As a result, character and craft often take a back seat to the exploration of Lender's philosophy. This appears to have been a conscious decision on the author's part-- a reflection of his vision for the book and its message. It opens with a disclaimer, and since the writer thought it prudent to place it there, I'll share it with you: "Due to the author's Selective Tourette's Syndrome, the following contains some profanity and obscenities that might burn your little eyes and ears. Read at your own risk..."
Here is an excerpt:
Before even a word was uttered from her lips, I immediately looked straight into her eyes, and much like a deer in the headlights, I was suddenly entrapped by my own astonishment. Out of the blue, I felt beholden to her with an unusual and yet very intense magnetic feeling I had never felt before. Her presence lured me in like a marlin on an angler's line.Here is another:
After eating my salad like a goat eating hay, I devoured my sandwich like a hungry lion taking huge gnawing bites from its prey.
Sandy stared in astonishment at the way I gulped down my food. "Man, don't they even feed you in County?"
"Yeah, but you can't eat it. You never know what's really in it. The meat is like a Cracker Jack Box--you never know what kind of surprise you're going to get--and it's kind of grayish brown so who knows what animal it came from. Hell, it could be like from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, with a finger or two or even perhaps a rat's tail for added texture and flavor. Did you really think it was FDA approved? Sometimes the food comes mashed into a golf ball, like they're feeding us Soylent Green leftovers from the executed ones? Maybe we're eating our own? The only thing I can really eat is the bread, milk, and fruit. But being in solitary confinement, at least I don't have to fight over a bed or food--I hear it's so overcrowded inmates are actually sleeping on the floors of their overcrowded cells. The food, the conditions, the sleep, the degradation is well...Perhaps, it's really all part of the psychological crap they use while many of their deputies display their Napoleonic shortcomings. All in all, they're really trying to break you down. I can tell you one thing--after you come into county jail as a petty thief or nonviolent criminal, you'll come out s a vicious murderer. That's how you'll have to behave in order to survive in here." My eyes began to water from the intense reality within the jail.
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Spirit by the Cadence Group in return for an unbiased review.