Brother Finn has one final mission before his sentence is carried out: barter food for children and deliver the children to the Church. His task might have been so simple, if not for the demons. M. D. Boncher’s fantasy novel Akiniwazisaga: A Light Rises in a Dark World is seasoned with a pinch of alternate history and a dash of horror. In a world where Vikings colonized North America and this land is haunted by malevolent spirits, generations live and die in an endless struggle to hold the country. A Christian framework turns battles with unearthly creatures into spiritual warfare. Religion is elemental to the story, from the Gospel to demonic mischief to the old divisions of Christendom. This narrative sometimes feels detached, and the villainy of two characters strains realism. All the same, Akiniwazisaga is a fascinating blend of history, religion, and sinister folklore.
Best for: Fans of dark fantasy and spiritual warfare novels.
Discern: Several battles, multiple characters die gruesome deaths, harm to children, grisly imagery; and some readers may be troubled by negative treatments of Native Americans and Catholic theology.