While the history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre is well-researched, I struggled to fit what I know of modern Mormonism into the framework of Joseph Rinaldo's novel, A Mormon Massacre. The story brings to mind another novel I read (and loved) recently, Section 132 by Helga Zeiner, and I wish Joseph Rinaldo had set this tale in an unknown breakaway sect or a distant future, rather than trying to ground it in present day Utah. That said, A Mormon Massacre puts believable characters into interesting situations, inviting questions about the relation of faith—any faith—to action, and of honor to obedience. Beer-drinking dialog is just as convincingly rendered as Christian and Mormon church-speak, and the story is nicely split between different groups of characters, inviting a certain satisfaction when they finally meet. Sadly it takes almost half the book for any acknowledgement to appear that not all Mormons are polygamous, and, while the story really centers on one fictional leader’s fall from health and grace, the implications leveled at others might offend some readers. A hard-hitting book with much food for thought, and an interesting take on the relation of sex and violence to power and the corruption of spiritual power, this novel presents many fascinating parallels between religious and secular training schemes. As many characters, Mormon and otherwise, do their best to do good, those in power hold the reigns, and the reigns are coming loose when a whole new massacre promises to be “revealed.” The tale ends well, but I still wish it had been grounded in a more fictional faith, rather than fictionalizing people within an existing one. Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy of this novel by the author.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more