(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Ezekiel’s Shadow, the first novel by David Ryan Long, an acquisitions editor at Christian books publisher Bethany House, won the 2001 Christy Award for best first novel. The book tells the story of Ian Merchant, a famous horror novelist who is in many respects reminiscent of popular writer Stephen King. Ian lives with his wife, Rebecca, in the small, touristy town of Titansburg, Connecticut. Although they have lived in the town for a while, they have established relatively few local connections. Ian’s books have been on the best-seller list for several years, but Ian finds that he has writer’s block and is unable to continue writing. At the core of his writer’s block is his conversion to Christianity on a camping trip three months earlier. Rebecca has her own writing problems: She is trying to complete her master’s thesis in history but has lost interest in her idea about the American Civil War.

As the novel progresses, the reader slowly learns that Ian had reached a sort of turning point in both his spiritual and his creative life several months earlier. After he wrote a particularly dark and horrific novel, he began to feel that life held no meaning for him. He found a particularly haunting black-and-white photograph of a skeletal rib cage partly covered by shifting desert sands, and while investigating the photograph, he met the photographer, Howard Kepler. During a long camping trip, with Howard’s help, Ian sought and accepted Christ. Ian was baptized in the desert, almost drowning in a flooded wash. In the months since, he has been trying hard to get back into his life as a writer.

To deal with his writer’s block, Ian joins a writer’s group that he stumbles across in a local coffee shop. At some level, for Ian—a professional writer with many published novels—joining the group seems to be a step back, but he realizes that both professionally and personally, he feels isolated and cut off. One of the men,...

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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Bertrand, J. Mark. “The End of Horror: Analyzing Ezekiel’s Shadow.” http://www A thorough and in-depth analysis of the novel’s Christian themes.

Duncan, Melanie C. Review of Ezekiel’s Shadow. Library Journal 126, no. 2 (February 1, 2001): 79. A short review that takes an analytical approach, explicating many of the novel’s Christian themes.

Steinberg, Sybil S. Review of Ezekiel’s Shadow. Publishers Weekly 247, no. 48 (November 27, 2000): 50-51. A short review that focuses on the novel’s more suspenseful elements rather than the book’s Christian themes.