It is hard not to admire people who unequivocally devote their entire lives to something.  Perhaps it is their family, pets, or even a burgeoning career.  They make a firm commitment and follow it through.  One area where such dedication is particularly tenacious is that of religion.  Whatever the faith maybe, deeply religious individuals typically hold steadfast to the concepts of good, wholesomeness and purity.  Or do they?  In certain instances could this simply be a cover for a heart which is not quite so pure?  In the novel Perfect Soul by author S.J. Hermann, we get a first hand look at the darkness which may lurk in the hearts of some who hide behind such a wholesome facade.  A creepy and intriguing read which will bewitch you from start to finish!

The novel follows the life and struggles of the main protagonist, Nikki Strange.  She lives in the small and devoutly religious town of Perfect, Illinois.  She is the “perfect” daughter of the local pastor who ensures that she stays on a straight and narrow path.  Any small lapses in judgement by Nikki are met with punishment which can only be described as cruel and unusual.  Nikki seldom strays from this pious path however as she is a true believer and is convinced it is all for her own good.  She is the perfect daughter… until she is visited by entities from the past.  Many moons ago something very dark and horrific happened in the small town of Perfect, Illinois.  Now is the time for vengeance- and Nikki is the key.  The visitors will open up her eyes and mind while showing Nikki the true nature of her neighbors.  The biblical town of Perfect… saturated in sin.  Will Nikki be able to actually come to terms with this horror and ultimate betrayal?  Or has time run out for the sanctimonious community of Perfect?

I found this to be an exhilarating novel!  The theme of deception is cleverly supported by the addition of revenge and the creepy elements of horror.  It is a thrilling ride which is full of twists and turns with each passing page.  The author knows his craft very well as the tension builds steadily from the first page right up to a virtual crescendo by the end.  Excellent and engrossing pacing from start to finish.  You will become lost in the pages of this novel- in a very good way!

A great plot however always needs to be supported by interesting and believable characters.  Those who the reader will remember long after the book is closed.  Once again, that is absolutely the case with Perfect Soul.  As the main protagonist, Nikki is obviously developed in the most depth.  In fact, she is not merely just developed well.  It is like a full-blown metamorphosis!  A caterpillar emerging from a Chrysalis into a fascinating butterfly.  During this growth, she is surrounded by a number of supporting players who also steadily evolve throughout the story.  The really interesting part for all the characters is that you feel empathy for them one minute, and disdain the next.  Sympathy-then scorn.  The ability to play with the reader’s emotions in such a manner is not only brilliant writing, but it ultimately leads to a whole new level of true engagement.

I would highly recommend this novel to fans of the paranormal and horror.  In truth, it is a great selection for any reader who likes a thrilling and excellent story which is full of descriptive and riveting action.  There is some gore and adult scenes so be forewarned.

5 out of 5 Righteous Stars for this one!