By Evangeline Ciupek
Wendy Davidson could barely see the road through the pounding storm—she had just escaped from an abusive cult. Blinded by the rain, she crashes into a stalled pickup. Blood smears the truck’s window, and the driver is gone. Wendy runs back to her car for the pistol she keeps under the seat.
Ted Dekker’s 2007 novel, Skin, takes readers on a wild ride through the otherwise sleepy town of Sommerville, Nev.. The town is plagued by tornadoes and Sterling Red, a serial killer who enjoys sucking mustard bottles, killing the innocent and hiding their bodies like Easter eggs.
Wendy is joined by Carey and Nicole (a brother and sister with secrets), and policeman Colt, “a clumsy, insecure mess around women, and only slightly better around men.” They all rush into a safe house to escape the tornadoes. Afterward, everything outside has changed. Is it a freak of nature? Is it an alternate reality? Are they all going crazy? Is one of them Red?
After the tornadoes pass, Wendy, Casey, Rachel, and Colt are astonished at the sight of Sommerville. It is submerged beneath tons of sand. It is a wasteland criss-crossed with dangerous electric currents. Wendy hears a humming sound. She’s tormented by ever-increasing blackouts.
“She gasped, then immediately realized that it wasn’t the world but her own vision that turned black. Pinpricks of light swam on the horizon. She was losing her sight ….”
Jerry Pinkus joins the fray. He’s a computer whiz whose index finger was chopped off in his sleep. He claims Red did it. But Wendy isn’t convinced. They get trapped in the library, which becomes the set for Red’s deadly mind games.
To say that Dekker is a prolific, as well as exciting, writer would be understating the truth. Since 1997 he’s authored and co-authored more than 30 books, including graphic novels and series. The novels Thr3e and House became movies. Dekker creates supernatural thrillers pumped with spiritual metaphors.
“Darkness and evil are no less comforting than a wolf is a sheep. So when I write about the wolf, I give him fangs and a thirst for blood. (He’s) not a lap dog who we feel nice about cuddling …. If … illuminating such an enemy disturbs the reader, we should all be grateful,” Dekker said in an interview with Ann Vande Zande for CBN.
Skin exhibits common threads found in many of Dekker’s novels: no-way-out dead ends, romance, self-sacrifice, villains experiencing tremors and (excuse the expression) a black-and-white view of good and evil. Some common words used include “pig,” “black bat” and “the circle.”
Dekker seen life as a stage for villains and heroes.
“The greatest villain is most certainly Lucifer and, to a more pervasive degree, the evil nature which resides in all of us—the old man, as Paul put it. And the greatest hero is undoubtedly Christ, who offers to rescue us from both ourselves and Lucifer.
“Hope comes only in a time of need, and the more acute the need, the more urgent the hope. How does one characterize the true value of hope in Christ without first understanding and portraying the terrible pit from which we all need hope of rescue?” Dekker said.
The Christian review Web site, Title Trakk, said Skin “regales readers with a tale of horror, suspense, and mind-bending reality.”
Dekker’s complex plots intensify his straightforward text in Skin. The characters are so believable that you can’t help but fall in love with them and discover the plot through their eyes. It’s hard to find such masterful storytelling in the Christian market today.
This year alone will see the publication of five more Dekker novels. The next member of his suspense family, Boneman’s Daughters, is scheduled for release in April.
Many Dekker books contain pieces of the same puzzle. The current of a hidden reality flows through his novels. A few of the terms that consistently show up are “black,” “white” and “red.” Dekker sees his books as a positive influence on the world.
“Some say my novels are dark. I would say they are bright with hope! It’s just that the contrast between the dark and the light is so black and white compared to many other grayer novels.”