I became friends with Andrew Franks on TikTok before I realized he was an author, because I enjoyed his taste and his content. When he reached out offering a code to the audiobook for Prey Without Ceasing, I was both excited and nervous. I tend to shy away from reading books written by people I’ve developed any kind of relationship with, because I try to be as (kindly) honest as I can be about every book I read, and this has cost me relationships in the past. But the synopsis of this book called to me so strongly that I accepted his offer and also purchased the Kindle book so I could tandem read and make notes. I made the right decision. This was definitely a book worth reading, and I related to portions of it so deeply that it was painful.
While I never experienced quite the spiritual turmoil (internal or external) that Dalton underwent in this story, I related to his struggles and doubts and attempts to live out his shaky faith on a profound level. I am incredibly fortunate in that my family was always wonderfully supportive. I was never yelled at or struck or judged and found lacking. My home, and my church, was always a safe space. But the internal struggles and questions Dalton was wrestling with? I’ve been there. I’ve felt that same guilty confusion as I tried to work out my own faith, live it out to the best of my ability, and deal with the stomach-churning disappointment that came anytime I fell short.
I am so, so incredibly thankful that I didn’t have the dad Dalton did. Pastor Gary was horrible. He’s the epitome of the legalistic, judgmental, hypocritical Christian that drives so many away from the faith. The minute things he chose to harp on, like light profanity in movies for example, don’t matter even the tiniest bit in the scheme of things. And yet Gary placed so much weight on these unimportant things that it threatened to crush the faith of his (very faithful) son. If I could’ve reached through the pages of this book and smacked him, I totally would have.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids grow up and walk away from God because of the way they were treated at church. They walked away because of the reckless way faith was presented to them.”
I loved the symbolism in Dalton’s nighttime visit to the church, how it looked rundown and decaying and infested by things that kept to the shadows. However, it still wasn’t without its beauty. Dalton’s “dark night of the soul” was tense, but the horror elements were a bit lighter (and more heavily symbolic) than I would’ve expected. I was reminded a bit of The Visitation and House, books that I loved as a teen.
Kellen Boyle did an absolutely fantastic job narrating the audiobook. He captured the feeling of living in the Bible Belt in the American South. His slight drawl was perfect for this story. Reading this was very nostalgic, as it reminded me of the Christian horror novels I loved so much in my youth, from authors like Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. And, similar to those authors, there were times when the spiritual symbolism and message felt just a tad heavy-handed; it could have used as touch more finesse in the writing, but so could the books I loved from Dekker and Peretti and they were very effective. I also thought that it felt a tiny bit rushed, though I often feel that way about novellas.
I really enjoyed Prey Without Ceasing, and felt somehow seen by it. It was quick but still deeply thoughtful, and it brought me back to the time when my faith was young and sometimes shaky. Franks did a great job with it, and the audio version was superb. This is a book that I’ll be pressing into the hands of my cousins and others who have had a similar Christian experience, though I think that even those who don’t share that faith will find it fascinating.