An ancient sin. A long forgotten oath. A town with a deadly secret.
Something sinister is at work in Hyde River, an isolated mining town in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Something evil.
Under the cover of darkness, a predator strikes without warning–taking life in the most chilling and savage fashion.
The community of Hyde River watches in terror as residents suddenly vanish. Yet the more locals are pressed for information, the more they close ranks, sworn to secrecy by their forefathers’ hidden sins.
Only when Hyde River’s secrets are exposed is the true extent of the danger fully revealed. What the town discovers is something far more deadly than anything they’d imagined. Something that doesn’t just stalk its victims, but has the power to turn hearts black with decay as it slowly fills their souls with darkness.
Steve Benson is called to research a gruesome mystery in the American northwest. An animal attack has taken his brother’s life. Struck with grief, the wildlife biologist is also drawn into the secrets of Hyde River. People vanish. Their friends and family won’t answer questions. And an even darker reality lurks in the mountains, seeking whom he may devour. Unlike novelist Frank Peretti’s two Darkness books, The Oath (1995) tracks the lives of unbelievers, aiming to include secular readers. Yet with deepening suspense, slow-reveals, and terrifying imagery, this literary creature features a foe you might not expect. Peretti packs more tensions into a bombastic finale, refusing to look away from realities of evil—and predictable yet only crucial way to defeat it.
Best for: Teens and older readers who don’t mind a slow-building, intense horror/paranormal story (without visible angel-versus-demons battles).
Discern: Men and women discuss extramarital affairs, but keep explicit physical actions off-page; descriptions of results following attacks by bears and other animals; spiritual manipulations by villains who overtly worship sin; mild vulgarities, but occasional misuses of God’s title as exclamations; existential dread of being slow-corrupted from within and then devoured.