I actually loved the story, as I also enjoyed his first book, (You can read my review of Powers and Principalities here. However, Dan's writing will not be for everyone since there is very explicit language and content. Read my review:
Pharmakeia by Dan Calabrese is the second book in a series about demonic forces that rock the small city of Royal Oak. In book number one, Powers and Principalities, Clay Bender is ‘gifted’ with the ability to see demons and despite the fact that he is less than enthusiastic about his new ability, he must prevent a catastrophic disaster. In Pharmakeia, we are reunited with Clay and his friends Murphy and Kyla. It is nine months since we last saw them and both Clay and Kyla have become Christians, despite some tendencies to continue practicing some of their more ‘worldy’ habits. This time, Kyla begins receiving spiritual messages in the form of nightmares. They soon discover that her dreams seem to be prophetic and are portents of horrible events to come. All of the incidents relate to the use of a powerful new form of PCP that has infiltrated the city’s party scene. The threesome team up with Kyla’s pastor to try and prevent the next disaster and hopefully stop the drug lords behind it all.
I really enjoyed this story. It built gradually at the beginning with the addition of a lot of new characters, but soon the pieces started fitting together and I was riveted to the book. The pace was fast; the characters, situations and dialogue where very realistic. The only downside is the paradox the book presents for potential readers. The Christian message is front and center; the author makes no apology for presenting the gospel and tackling a hot topic like spiritual warfare. However, a lot of potential readers will be offended by the explicit language which is also very much front and center. As I said, it is very realistic. In today’s society the ‘F-bomb’ is bandied about very casually, as anyone who watches movies, prime time TV, or even hangs out in a local restaurant will know. Crude language is now the norm, like it or not. Many Christian readers will probably find this offensive, which then begs the question, who is the primary audience? This is such a great story, but I’m worried that Christians will shut the book after only a few pages, while non-Christians may find the blatant Christian worldview too much for their liking as well.
In the end, I set aside my reservations about language in favor of a great story that also has a strong spiritual message. The explicit content was no surprise to me since I had read the first book, and I plan to read book number three, Dark Matter, too. Readers will have to settle on their own comfort levels when it comes to ‘edgy’ content.