If you are a fan of urban fantasy—you know, the kind of supernatural stories where wizards have guns and werewolves transform in the shadows of skyscrapers—you’ll enjoy “Iscariot,” written by our very own Cooper D. Barham. And the best part is, this is a Geeks Under Grace original short story and you can read it for free right here on the site!
Like most stories in the genre, there’s a strong noir element on display here. Strong but emotionally wounded heroes face off against shadowy villains with the fate of a young girl held in the balance. These dark, magical streets are my home just as much as the far-off worlds that I can only reach by wardrobe or magic ring, or alien planets and futuristic societies. It’s the kind of fantasy that pulls back the veil on a dark spiritual world that lies just underneath our ordinary, day-to-day lives. And since I’m one of those Christians that believes that there are actual dark spiritual forces at work around us, the story is only a stone’s throw away from my reality.
I’ve always enjoyed books like Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness. I would read them and wonder if battles between angels and demons unfolded the way they did in his novels. The world of “Iscariot” deals with some similar spiritual topics, with its high stakes battle over human souls and the forces of darkness, but in some ways plays out a bit edgier. It’s noir storytelling with surprisingly sympathetic villains that seem happier to live in that grey area between absolute good and evil.
While the author is a Christian and the story deals with spiritual things, it’s not preachy. Readers aren’t going to walk away feeling like they’ve been sat down and told a moral about what the supernatural world is like and how they should live their lives because of it. It’s character-driven storytelling that is more interested in taking cool characters into suspenseful situations and entertaining the reader than it is in imparting some kind of lesson.
There’s enough action and supernatural worldbuilding to appeal to urban fantasy fans and comic book geeks, and enough character drama to make those same geeks actually care about why the characters do what they do. There is a strong theme of family that will haunt readers who choose to visit the world of “Iscariot.”
If you read enough Christian fantasy stories, you’ve probably had your fill of angels versus demons and End Times. Those are the most biblical, high-stakes, supernatural conflicts, and sometimes Christian writers tend to avoid veering outside of those and painting a picture of a world that works differently. I’m happy to say that “Iscariot” doesn’t have simple “demons” chasing after its heroes. What we get instead is the complicated forces of Penance and the heroes that attempt to protect humanity from them. It’s a less black-and-white exploration of the forces of darkness and what they do to human beings. The bad guys are not entirely bad, and even the “good guys” like Iscariot are not entirely free of a dark side. While it would be easy to focus too heavily on the supernatural characters of the tale, there is a strong sense of human empathy that runs throughout the story.
We’ve seen sins personified in fiction before (fans of Fullmetal Alchemist or the Shazam! comics know what I mean). We’ve even explored that idea before here at Geeks Under Grace. “Iscariot” takes the time-honored trope and puts its own original spin on it.
If you enjoy stories in which cool good guys face off against supernatural baddies in creepy settings that could be found in your own city or town, you will probably feel at home in “Iscariot.” This is a quick read that will appeal to fans of either urban fantasy or Christian supernatural fiction. Iscariot and Arthur are fun characters to spend time with, the forces of Penance are mysterious and spooky, there is a cool fantasy action sequence, and a mystery that leads to an emotional suckerpunch of an ending that I won’t spoil for you.
So if you’re looking for something dark and magical to satisfy your fantasy craving, or just want to see an original take on the Christian supernatural story, “Iscariot,” written by Geeks Under Grace’s own Cooper D. Barham, is one that’s right up your haunted alley.
A lover of Jesus and of fantastical fiction, Silas Green talks books and Christian living on Geeks Under Grace. He spends the rest of his free time trying to write stories and exploring the paradise island in the Pacific on which he is stranded.
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