This Present Darkness is among the classic novels of the Christian horror genre. It also serves as strong commentary against the hidden dangers of New Age-ism, which is as important now as it was in the 1980s, when the book was first published. Set in the deceptively peaceful small town of Ashton, the book's ingredients are solid: an intrepid Christian pastor, Hank Busche; the dogged editor of The Clarion, Marshall Hogan; and sinister figures slowly manipulating a town toward their own dark purposes.
This Present Darkness is the first book of a two-part series, including Piercing the Darkness.
First published in 1986, Peretti's book set the standard for suspense for spiritual warfare story-telling. Nearly every page of the book describes sulfur-belching, ash-choking demons battling fierce angelic warriors. All of this occurs on a level of reality that is just beyond the senses. It is a helpful spiritual practice for Christians to read books such as these. They help us tinge our reality with the supernatural, even as the rest of the world focuses on the purely material.
This book also teaches us about the power of prayer in our own unseen spiritual battles. Christian believers and New Age demon-worshippers influence the unseen clashes between the angels and demons through prayer. This book is not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of exorcisms are especially vivid: "There were fifteen [demons], packed into Carmen's body like crawling, superimposed maggots, boiling, writhing, a tangle of hideous arms, legs, talons, and heads."
This Present Darkness should be on every Christian Horror reader's summer reading list.