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 the predictable yet 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.