Abhorrent Faith by John Baltisberger
The sequel to 2021’s critically acclaimed novel Abhorrent Siren has arrived! In a story that runs concurrently with the events of the previous book, an interfaith luncheon becomes the scene of unspeakable horror, as the ugliness of the human soul is laid bare figuratively and literally. Abhorrent Faith seethes with anger and hurt, before launching into a wildly violent and terrifying climax. Author John Baltisberger ripped his own heart out and left it on the page to craft this highly intelligent gut-punch slab of splatterpunk literature. You are not ready.
“What John gets through to the reader is he is hurt, and he is angry. You can feel that he bled in writing this, tears were shed, and that this is his literal heart and soul.”
-Christina Pfieffer author of Mothers of Mayhem Podcast
A Worthy Sequel, and a Worthy Commentary
Just as the nightmarish and unfathomable events of Abhorrent Siren are reaching their feverish conclusion in San Antonio, the events of Abhorrent Faith begin. An inclusive, interfaith potluck hosted by a local Rabbi is interrupted by a hideously transformed--and transforming--monstrosity and the rabidly bigoted evangelical preacher seemingly controlling it. As the world outside the synagogue devolves into chaos and madness, a different sort of madness is on display in the defiled sanctuary. Baltisberger packs this follow-up to his previous novella with just as much perversity and horror but a different brand of social commentary. The scathing indictment of the opioid epidemic is still present, but that takes the backseat as he focuses his ire on bigotry, nationalism, and the anti-semitism embedded in altogether too much of society--and human history as a whole. Calling out the inherent hypocrisy, scriptural ignorance, and mental gymnastics embedded within right-wing Christianity, one can't help but feel a thrill each time Ari stands up to Adrian King. At the same time, one can't help but feel the almost tearful frustration and anger at Ari--or anyone--having to contend with the level of ignorance and hate given unworthy life in the story's antagonist. It doesn't take long for the reader to recognize that the monsters aren't all outside, and I'm not talking about the infected, mutating members of Ari's interfaith circle. Altogether too much of this narrative is non-fiction, in the sense that these abhorrent acolytes of intolerance and acrimony are everywhere one looks, and the anti-semitic sentiments are alive and thriving wherever people like that are platformed and given attention. Baltisberger is angry over this, and that anger seethes beneath the surface of his spectacular storytelling in this follow-up to Abhorrent Siren. The discerning eye might recognize a certain similarity between the cover art and a certain evangelical nut known for unhinged rants and barely suppressed bigotry. This is not an accident.
Didactic and Blood Soaked
The second book in John Baltisberger's Abhorrent series is a primal scream against the spike of antisemitism in the last 5 years. A Rabbi debates a murderous televangelist about whether or not Jesus is the Messiah against the backdrop of the opioid induced Kaiju attack of Abhorrent Siren. Didactic and blood soaked, you don't want to miss Abhorrent Faith.
Social Commentary In A Demonic Monster Suit
Abhorrent Faith is excellent social commentary dressed up in an excellent rubber monster suit. John Baltisberger keeps a steady pace and high tension while artfully weaving together academic theology, body horror, brutal violence, and eroticism. His passion for the message palpable, and reading the afterword explains precisely why. It’s personal (as well it should be), and it results in a visceral and thoroughly enjoyable read.
Top tier splatter kaiju!
This book was an intense ride! I have read a lot of Mr. Baltisberger's work, and this ranks near the top for me. I loved the setting and the characters he created, and the pacing was excellent. I loved the debate portions of the book-John obviously did his homework. It does not require reading Abhorrent Siren first (though it definitely enhanced my experience reading this, and I highly recommend that as well), as it takes place in some respects on a smaller scale. At the same time though, the concerns of this book; faith and its corruption by hatred, the opioid crisis; are even sharper in this piece. This is an earlier contender for one of the best of 2022, and I wholeheartedly recommend it!!