Review: A Hideous Beauty

By Jack Cavanaugh

Demons. Angels. Nephilim. Spiritual warfare. It’s left the theology section for a new home on the Christian fiction shelves. In A Hideous Beauty, Jack Cavanaugh offers another supernatural thriller.

The cover has the White House in the background, which is why I picked it up. I’m a sucker for stories about presidents. I quickly learned it was more a story about a writer. Grant Austin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and about to learn that the world isn’t what he thinks. His first clue is when an old rival starts glowing.

Grant is an agnostic, but seeing is believing, and before long he’s doing a lot of both. Cavanaugh throws a few curveballs, and A Hideous Beauty is not what it pretends, for many pages, to be about. Grant Austin learns of a plot to assassinate the president and makes it his mission to prevent it. But he learns that, behind it and through it, there is another battle being waged.

Cavanaugh writes with humor, and he shows imagination in portraying the supernatural. I have to give him credit for making his angels impressive. I also have to give him credit for making one of them occasionally something of a, well, jerk. Good guys can be grumpy. An angel, if you met one, may not be sweet and lovable.

Jack Cavanaugh is a good writer, but there are places in the book where the writing could have been smoothed over a little. Nephilim, demons, and angels have become popular as Christian fantasy, and sometimes it’s overdone. A Hideous Beauty is not. In fact, there are times when it seems oddly ordinary. But if you pick the book up and wonder why you’re following some guy’s nostalgic trip through his old high school, please be patient. It won’t be long before people start glowing.

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