Test of Faith
Benfico Augustin Rael might be a famous painter whose pictures create emotions within him that take him away from the realities of life and cause him to disconnect with the world while creating his masterpieces. Talented, at the peak of his profession he painted vividly colorful landscapes, images of the churches and paintings far surpassing many of the more famous masters.
But, he is plagued by something that no one can stop which can cause not only his downfall but also that of others. Benefico hears voices, angels that summon him to do God’s bidding and adhere to his demands. Most artists’ account for their talent as something inborn, ingrained and part of their every being. But, the messengers or voices that haunted and visited him during his youth remind him that his talent, success and money are not his but that of God and he demands total compliance and obedience. What do they want and what is now going to be expected of him remains in the hands of the man and the requests of the angels.
But, the voices that he hears and his actions concern his wife Connor who decides he needs to speak with someone and that someone is Dr. Harry Spencer. Dr. Spencer is a lay back easy going man whose life is definitely run by the women in life especially his office manager, Rosanna who treats him like a little boy and runs his office definitely her way, not his. World famous or not Benefico needs help to deal with the voices that control his life and movements at night. Fearing that the Angel of Death is ready to come for him he feels the draw or pull to paint until he creates whatever masterpieces are deep within his mind and his inner soul.
As Harry Spencer comes to understand more about Ben, his visions the voices he hears from his childhood friend and doctor Helen, as they both seek him out when he has an accident landing him in the ER, we get to understand and learn more about his visions, the voices he hears and the reasons behind them. The voices are the angels of God and they are his guide telling him what he is and where he is to go. But, we also meet Maarti Harry’s wife and she is a bit of a rebel too with an unrelenting passion for work, wild and cannot remain at home for long periods of time. Working as a producer for media extravanza’s she too has a wild spirit, needs adventure and although she might not have visions her life takes her in many different directions too. But, there is much more as Ben reveals to the reader and his youngest daughter Zoey the truths behind his visions and voices and she relates her experiences too. There is a definite link between Zoey and Ben and as Ben tells her of his first vision the storm the lilacs that created a barrier and a wall to protect his family and home from this raging storm that destroyed homes and land, he also recounts the story about the coyote.
Explaining them to Harry and trying to relate why they define who he is and where he is going is difficult for Harry to understand. The author recounts when the dreams began how his mother and he dreamed the same dreams, had the same nightmares and how she was killed the end what happened to his father. Then, we revisit Harry, Maarti and learn of the death of his youngest child Erin from Leukemia and how that changed his wife causing her to react, leave for long periods of time, lash out at him for not being able to save her and try and find her own place in the world. All the important work or jobs seem to fade away into the distance as Maarti leaves once again to see Erin and try to cope with her own grief and sadness.
As Ben tries to face his sleepless nights he explains to Harry that visions have taken on a whole new persona of their own. He not only sees death but smells it in the air and feels it all around him which definitely makes him realize that he needs help and hopes that Harry is the one that can help him. God’s demands, God’s wishes what he wants of him and he hears his voice and must obey is what he says. The last time they visited he killed someone. Only one person knows the story and that person is sworn to secrecy. What will happen when the visions become stronger and he is finally told what to do?
As the author flashes back to where it all began and how Edwardo Ben’s father comes into the picture, his back story and why his mother was found brutally killed. The agony faced by his sisters and himself and the rage within him causing him to take action. The new priest that come into their lives and befriended him and kept his secret. The people in the town and how Ben used his art, his visions and his dreams to escape into his own world and justify his actions and the end result often tragic. Added into the picture the author relates Harry and Maari’s back-story and tells the reader how and why their lives fell apart and why her anger festers each time she thinks about what happened to her youngest daughter, Erin, and why she blames Harry and not herself. Each character fighting to survive, their faith in themselves and others tested and yet many linger in their own world filled with an empty vacuum not even trying to create a more tangible world or life.
As you hear Benny confession to the priest learn his fate and the rationale behind his actions and thinking both in the present and the past you begin to wonder just how sane this man really is, whether these voices are real and have guided him to do what he says he has been ordered or commanded to do or is he just plain insane? What about Harry’s torment and his fear of leaving Maarti or even confronting her in order to create some harmony and peace in his life. With his practice needing his attention, Rose and his receptionist in his corner, will he ever make any decisions about his life or heed their advice? Would God’s angels really command someone to commit murder or harm another person? If so why and how do you handle your calling?
Faith: When God tests us, he wants us to succeed. It tests us as is necessary. But, Ben feels that his faith not only has been tested but also is in the hands of the angels and the voices that he hears that command him to do what needs to be done. He also knows that his time is near as he sees the coyote, looks into its eyes and feels that something is about to happen and his life will change. How much can we take before we break and before it is too late? As Ben divorces himself from this life, his painting the world as we see it and devotes himself to hearing the voice of God. Maarti seems to see him as he really is when she visits the gallery exhibiting his painting, expresses his viewpoint, states her feelings and then leaves in anger and rage only to return and make one simple statement that lets the reader know she is the only one that sees him for what he really. But, how that will play out and affect his family, his life, his fate and even Ben remains to be seen as author Hersch Wilson takes the reader on a journey into the minds of so many people whose views on God, their beliefs and differences.
As he journeys away from his life he comes front and center with his destiny or future when he meets Mikala listens to the words of an old priest and realizes the time has finally come for his to clear his mind, get rid of all the clutter and hear the voice of God and do as he commands. But, what happens as a result will surprise and enlighten the reader, create some doubt or fear in your heart and help you understand what Ben is about to do, who and what he really is and how this all plays out. What will happen when his family learns the truth, what will happen to Zoey who is linked to her Dad and knows his secrets and hears the voices too, what will happen to Harry and Maarti? Will anything or anyone live through and survive these tests of more than just their faith and endurance to survive?
As the end is coming near and Ben decides on his final fate and journey what happens will not only rock the world of his entire family but will change everything for Harry, Maarti, Connor and Zoey too. What happens at the end will make you wonder just what God’s plan really was for Ben or was it his plan after all that decided his fate? Author Hersch Wilson provides many interesting lessons related to God, the church and religion in a book filled with murder, suspense, family loyalty, friendships that withstand more than just the length of time and one man who put his life in the hands of the angels and the voices he heard that controlled his destiny in the name of God. As Harry, Paloma and Evald search for Ben will they find him or will it be too late as he decides the fate of someone else hoping for eternal life and pleasing God.
This is one book that will definitely give you much pause for thought. Test of Faith: Was this a real test of his faith or just a man who was insane? You decide after reading this outstanding novel.
Good review. We have all had a test of faith at some point in our lives. I will definitely add this to my list of reads in 2012!