Book review: ‘The Witnesses’ is full of thrilling conviction

By Elizabeth Reid

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Nov. 17 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

"THE WITNESSES," by Stephanie Black, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 280 pages (f)

In the fictitious New America, religion is illegal, many books are forbidden and people are encouraged to spy on their neighbors. “The Witnesses” takes place two months after “The Believer” and continues the story of a man who stanchly believes in the most controversial and banned book of all: The Book of Mormon.

Book two of this two-book futuristic series takes several surprising turns. Through a series of miracles, Ian, Jill and Alisa are alive but now in danger of being discovered. Also at risk are those who helped fake their executions, themselves in perilous political standings. While undergoing mental upheavals and the constant fear of discovery, the death-cheaters learn that needed inner strength only comes from one place: God.

New America is a newborn nation, an offshoot of the United States. The legacy of its founder, power-hungry President Tremont, lives on under current President Ryce. Ryce, still reeling after an attempted coup, is a paranoid elderly woman, obsessed with cheating death. Her suspicion of others eventually leads to a potentially dangerous discovery. With the help of some unexpected allies, Ryce fights against those bent on forcing New America to become a dictatorship.

“The Witnesses” is a great sequel, well worth its eight-year wait. Author Stephanie Black’s easy writing style and superb plot construction make this book one that even the most seasoned reader will find surprising and enjoyable. While the New America introduced in “The Believer” is a country most would cringe at living in, it matures to a nation full of hope and promise by the end of “The Witnesses.”

“The Witnesses” is a clean book with no swearing and little romance. Minor violence is portrayed with most of the heart-pounding scenes coming from suspenseful writing.

Black is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Four of her novels have won Whitney Awards for Best Mystery/Suspense. She lives in northern California.

Elizabeth Reid has bachelor degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. Her email is bizziereid@gmail.com.

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