pinterest-7bf66.html Reviews by Peter: Guest blogger: Justin Coogle and his debut novel, Kingdom Come

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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading debut author's novels or those author's who have not had many reviews thus providing them much needed encouragement 

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Guest blogger: Justin Coogle and his debut novel, Kingdom Come

Today, I have a guest blogger, Justin Coogle. He has just released his debut novel, Kingdom Come. I came across Justin in a Goodreads group where he was talking about this novel and his thoughts on the status of Christian Speculative fiction today. I liked what I read and of his novel so I offered to investigate this more by offering him a guest post here for this purpose.  I trust you will find what Justin has to say about his novel intriguing as the world building is impressive. It was this that has piqued my interest in this novel. Released today, this novel is now in my Kindle.

So sit back and let Justin take you on a tour of his novel and the worldbuilding and his thoughts on Christian speculative fiction.

But first, a little about Justin and his journey to being a published novelist: 

I was born in Texarkana, Texas, to an army man and his Korean wife. Most of my childhood was spent between two military bases, Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley. I went to the University of Kansas for undergrad and am currently in my 3rd year at the University of Kansas Medical Center to eventually become a doctor in the Pediatric field. 

My testimony is evidence that God is a very personal God. My story wasn’t like a lot of my friends. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, my parents had a very broken marriage, and I suffered from bullying and terrible self-image. It wasn’t until I met my best friend in middle school — who showed me Jesus through our many schoolyard conversations — did I come to begin God’s path for me. Since then I’ve fervently sought the Lord’s will in all aspects of my life. 

Interesting tidbits of myself:

I’m currently a 3rd-year Medical Student hoping to become a Pediatric Neurologist, Pediatric Emergency, General Pediatrician, or OB/GYN.

I almost went professional in E-sports, particularly League of Legends.

I love horror movies and haunted locations. I’ve taken a few trips to “haunted” locales just to see the sights.

I was a huge fan of anime and my book is influenced stylistically from that.

I currently teach the preschool Sunday school at my church. 

Now let's look at Kingdom Come. Released on December 13th, 2017 on Amazon in Kindle format and December 15, 2017 for printed format:


It has been 5 years since Pope Quintus replaced the late Pope and shook the world by forming the DH, Vatican City's new demon hunting division, changing spiritual warfare forever. The Swiss guard has been replaced by three elite warriors, the Trinitarians. Exuberant funds have been funnelled into their weapons division, Section 12. Their new intelligence unit, the Oracles, locate demons with unprecedented accuracy for first strike advantage. All these come together to support the heart and soul of the DH, the very demon hunting teams who hit the ground and take the fight to the enemy. 

But Jason Collins is struggling to find his place on his own team, Team Joshua, let alone be the life force of the DH. He doesn't have the impeccable talent and skill of Maria, the wisdom and faith of Michael, or the courage and cunning of their team leader Rodrick. In his desperate attempts to prove himself worthy of himself and his team, Jason now teeters on the edge of expulsion. But when Team Joshua encounter a pair of witches in a demonic graveyard, Jason discovers a plot set by the ancient demon lord Baal that would change the world order. 

Jason must wrestle with his failure, friends, and faith to save the Church and the world thereafter. 

I asked Justin what his motivation for writing Kingdom Come.

So I first need to preface WHY I wrote the book before I describe WHY I wrote the book. And no, you didn’t read that wrong. But you’ll understand what I mean. 

I was a fervent reader when I was younger and as I grew up became an avid gamer. Some of my favorite novels were the Dragons of Perth, Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Eragon, Lord of the Rings, etc. I also actively grew up on Star Wars, Warcraft, Starcraft, and many Nintendo games. Through my life, I’d accrued a massive foundation of epic stories to derive my ideas of what an “epic” story looked like. It wasn’t until I was 12 did I know Jesus, and not until college did I begin to actively seek his will as the core identity of my life.

But even as I grew in my faith I noticed a serious dissonance between me and some of my colleagues in my campus ministry or at church. They all were white, suburban, sports-loving Christians who grew up in stable families in stable neighborhoods. None of them shared my story and I soon realized it became exhausting trying to imitate them. I should instead embrace who God made ME to be. For the Lord sought me even when I was his enemy, he stitched me in the womb before creation.

It was halfway through college when I began to just be happy with who I was, and a large part of my character is my eccentric attitude and endless imagination. As I grew in my faith I wanted to see more representation of Christian role models in epic adventures. I love the movies. I love the Marvel films, Transformers, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. If it is big and over-the-top I’m excited to see it. But I became more frustrated at the lack of true Christian characters.

Now we get to novels. I began to seek Christian Fiction but I soon ran into a similar problem I experienced in my ministry. Many stories I read felt plastic. Too often I felt Christian Fiction was dominated by romances or terribly predictable speculative fiction. I’d go so far as to say many of the stories were cheesy and far too corny to read. I felt these novels sacrificed real tension, that truly epic feeling, to showcase the gospel or some other theological theme. This is a good and righteous intention, but that didn’t stop many of the stories being unreadable for my personal tastes.

So I set out to write Kingdom Come. If I couldn’t find my perfect story then I’d have to make it. Kingdom Come is the marriage of my faith in Jesus Christ and my thirst for large, epic stories. It is a novel that is not afraid to paint these characters as human. Their faults and failures are not always lessons, their deaths aren’t always meaningful, and the good guy winning is not always guaranteed. Choosing Christ isn’t easy nor is it a festival. Romans 5:3-5 tells us that suffering builds endurance to eventually point us to God. 1 Peter 5:10 tells us after we suffer a little while we will be made strong. I didn’t want my story to be a fairy tale where God waves his hand at the end, nor did I want it to be a parable where the narrative was simply a tool for a lesson. I wanted a story that reflected the spiritual warfare we face every day: an ebb and flow of facing our depravity but leaning on God (especially when it is hardest) to drag us across the finish line.

Justin describes the Biblical & Christian themes contained in Kingdom Come:

I wrote the novel when I was getting heavy into theology. I was reading lots of C.S Lewis, John Piper, Tony Evans, etc. Although the Gospel is the foundation of our entire faith, I wanted to explore elements of the Christian walk that were more subtle yet eternally important. The key themes of Kingdom Come book 1 are Idolatry, Identity, Friendship, and Solidarity.

I actually have all of these spelt out in deeper detail at the back of my novel in a special “Author’s Notes” section, and some of these involve spoilers, but I’ll loosely touch on these topics.

Idolatry is, in my opinion, the #1 issue the modern American Christian faces because it is so insidious. Long gone are the idols of golden cows. Instead, we idolize beauty, our phones, our talents, and even our pastors or role models! I noticed some of my colleagues were infinitely more passionate about what specific pastor spoke, or what one specific theologian said, or what the Pope said, over Jesus Christ himself. Liking and looking to these other sources is totally fine, but I wanted to remind people that even good things can become walls between you and God. Identity is a little more obvious, but I wanted to simply highlight the importance of having Jesus as a central part of your personality and how that affects you. The other themes are pretty common amongst most epic adventures (Friendship and Solidarity). I highlight friendship as a powerful gift and I highlight solidarity as a worthy characteristic.

Another key theme is demons themselves. Although my novel is an action novel at heart (where plenty of demons are meant for cool set pieces), I made it a prime goal to identify how real demons operate and what is their end goal. A lot of these ideas are derived from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Essentially it highlights that a demon’s ultimate goal is to distract you or have you turn from God. It doesn’t matter how they do that. Whether it's through pain, suffering or even pleasure and happiness. If God is no longer your anchor, the demon has won. These ideas are explored in the novel and are a crucial element of the spiritual warfare we face every day.

Sadly, I really cannot say too much without giving a lot of the story away. The novel truly is meant to be experienced more than lectured. I’d highly value anyone’s thoughts after they read it!

Another key element to the story and this is less a theme and more of a literary decision was to make the characters comfortable in their faith. Many stories will have faith in God, or God’s existence, or whatever other related themes as a central conflict in their plot. Mine has none of that. Being demon hunters, my characters are essentially required to already be solid in their faith. They speak about their faith casually, not because they’re trying to preach to each other, but because it is a large part of their life. I tried to make their faiths very natural parts of their identities and not so much as plot devices. Now, this doesn’t mean they don’t struggle with the next layer of questions like “Why is this happening?” “What is the purpose in this?” “Where do I go from here?”, but it all stems from a foundation of being competent believers.

Another literary decision I chose was to keep this based largely in reality. I know. “Uh, Justin doesn’t your story involve demons…?” Well yes. But being Christian I believe demons are very real. Are real demons quite as…present…as the ones in my novel? Probably not. At least not always, and not to the degree I’ve written. But I wanted to recreate a feeling a Christian feels but superimpose it into a supernatural action novel. When life gets hard, and it is impossible to see through the storm, a battalion of angels doesn’t just show up and wipe a clean slate. And often time, not always (I’m a major believer in miracles), God doesn’t step in on the first sign of trouble to make things right. There is often suffering, questioning, doubting, and struggling. But it's from this that Christ shines brightest, it's through this that the Holy Spirit forges a new Christian infinitely stronger than the shell they were before.

I have a list of scriptural references, themes, and other “behind the scenes” stuff in the back of my book with their own dedicated sections! You’ll get a glimpse into my thought process and motivations and the scriptural references many of the ideas in the book were born from. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. God isn’t just a bunch of verses in the Bible, he is a living, active God. Thus, many of the influences come from how His Word has shaped me personally, but that is a little harder to articulate into writing haha.

Justin has also composed a collection of short stories connected to this novel! 

Just released on Amazon is a collection of short stories featured within the Kingdom Come universe. See below to preview or buy. 

DH Database Vol. 1: A collection of Kingdom Come short stories feature the pasts of some side characters, events that couldn’t be detailed in the novel, or just stories within the world I’ve crafted that I felt compelled to tell.

Some stories are meant to evoke strong spiritual responses, others are just funny and goofy.

They will be available for free on my website if you subscribe to my email there! Or you can purchase them in E-book format for $0.99 below or in paperback when released shortly. 


I asked Justin if there was any artwork, graphics or items that make up the Kingdom Come brand. He provided the following: 

DH Logo:

The DH Logo was designed by my friend Benjamin Woods, who is a designer up in Seattle, Washington. He did a lot of research into Vatican symbolism and history to create this logo.

The top part is meant to reflect the design of St. Peter’s Basilica from an eagle’s perspective

The bottom is the two letters DH, which is the name of the organization, short for the Demon Hunters. Simple but pragmatic.

Together they form what appears to resemble a key. Keys were central to Vatican architecture.

Within the top structure is an obvious cross which of course represents the death of Christ and is a central symbol to Christians.

Battle Artwork

This piece was done by Evyn Fong specifically for my novel. It depicts a scene within the book and features one of the main characters, Maria Cassinova.


The artwork, more than anything else, was meant to evoke the atmosphere of the novel. This is an intense novel with epic proportions and serious stakes. I feel she captured that sensation perfectly and I am thrilled at how this art piece turned out. 

The 4 character artwork

This was actually meant to be the original cover. I eventually decided to replace it because it's just simply too busy and is unappealing at initial glance. However, I personally love this art piece as it reflects each of the four main characters in the novel. 

This piece represents Team Joshua, Jason’s (the main character) team. The story primarily follows them.

The artwork reflects each character’s primary weapon (Jason’s cross blades, Maria’s rifle, Rodrick’s swords, and Michael’s Bible). Their roles within the team are better explained in the novel, but I’ll give a brief description of how demon hunting units work in my universe.

Each team is given anywhere between 1-3 hunters and 1 chaplain. The hunters are usually equipped with personalized weapons from Section 12, the R&D department of the DH. The chaplain is responsible for constructing ward arrays, holy barriers derived from scripture, to surround an area so that the demon is locked within a concentrated space. This allows the demon hunters to effectively isolate and eliminate their targets. Chaplains are often vulnerable while maintaining this ward, so there is often someone designated to defend them. 

Justin has provided an excerpt to what is at stake in spiritual warfare:

This is an excerpt from chapter four. It is a conversation between the main character, Jason, and his demon-hunting team’s chaplain, Michael, following a demon hunt in Kansas that shook Jason to his core. The mission was originally meant to be a casual excursion to prove Jason could just follow orders but it turned into a haunting experience where Jason is reminded of what is at stake in this spiritual war.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Start of Excerpt~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Michael took a deep breath and set his things in the front seat next to the driver, who looked especially uncomfortable with the serious conversation.

“Jason, you seemed to have forgotten that we are fighting a war, and perhaps this hunt will open your eyes to that.”

“I know th—”

Michael interrupted. “No, I don’t think you do. People die in wars, especially those that don’t deserve it. Not because they were good or bad, but because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unlike any other war, this one has been waged since creation. When the first stars fell.”

“But that’s why we’re here. Isn’t it? What’s the point of the DH if we can’t stop this? If not us then who?!”

“I don’t know what delusion of us you had, but I hope this has put things in perspective. You may have fantasized yourself the hero, or maybe even Rodrick or Maria. Well, guess what? None of us are; the hero already came. We aren’t saviors Jason, we’re hunters. Hunters that do what we can, take the war to the frontlines so less people become collateral. Make no mistake we’re way over our heads, not because we fancy ourselves powerful, but because we serve a great God that is infinitely more powerful than we can imagine. You feel the loss of those children? Good. As do I. But that was a minuscule snapshot of an extensive battlefield. What of the others?”

Jason was confused. “What others?”

“Children in this town. Nearby cities. This country. How many more are comfortable with their mothers, their fathers. How many experienced today as the best day of their lives? Even now, billions around the globe are coming to know Christ for the first time or are continuing to explore His riches, His joys, His freedoms.”

Jason hung his head. “I didn’t mean to diminish Jesus’—”

Michael cut him off.

“No, I know you didn’t. But you’re young and passionate and quickly lose sight of the grand scheme of the battlefield. Demons are like weeds, if there is soil then they will return. You can cut them down or shell metal into their skin but they’ll always crawl back. They feed off what is already there. Humans are different. Sin is woven into our flesh. Sinful people aren’t content with simply growing in the soil available, they seek to broaden their fields, increase their bounties, and flourish. Sin is insatiable and ruthless. It is a two-front war. Christ has swiftly dealt with one, and he has graciously given us an opportunity to partake in dealing with the other.”

“How have you done this for five years?”

Michael looked at him with tired eyes. “I wonder that myself. This life isn’t easy. Knowing the truth strips you of a simpler life. Once you recognize sin you invite shame. Once you accept Christ you know grace and forgiveness. When those two meet you know sanctification. And once you face your first demon you know responsibility. When you’re caught up in this war there is no going back.”

“Does it ever get easier?”

Michael smiled. “No, but you grow wiser and closer to who Christ wants you to be. It may be foreign to you now, you’re young, but in time you’ll see. When His words take root in your heart, you could be facing the world and you will prevail. Give it time.”

Jason sat still for a few seconds, digesting those words.

“You don’t suppose there is a fast track to maturing is there?”

Michael laughed. “My friend, if you find one, I’d like to know.”

The laugh was contagious. Soon Jason and Michael were wiping tears from their eyes, all their stress released in that shared moment.

“Thanks, Michael. For this.”

“No thanks are needed.”

Michael reached back into the front seat to grab his books. The driver dropped his shoulders, relieved that the intense conversation had died down. Both demon hunters laid back in their seats looking out at the dark as night had fallen some hours ago. Jason tried to erase any memory of that room, but the dry Kansas scenery did nothing to help distract him.

“Hey, Michael?” Jason asked.

Michael looked up from his book, “Hmm?”

“In the house, I fought Mr Jamison more than the demon itself. He was in a trance-like he was possessed. The creature would cling to the ceiling speaking to him in a voice I couldn’t hear. I’ve read about possessions but I’ve never seen one before. Fighting another person…it just felt wrong, even if they were hell-bent on killing me.”

Michael folded his book.

“No, Jason, that was no possession. That was merely a desperate man who fell prey to his own insecurities. Some men can’t stand the thought of a life with suffering, so much so that they would sacrifice anything for the comfort or peace of mind they desire. I believe Mr Jamison thought in his mind he was protecting his daughter from the child eater. He figured himself a hero, maybe even powerful for taming the creature with the victims he kidnapped. Power has a funny way of revealing the worst in our sin.”

“Why didn’t the demon just hunt the children itself?”

“A good question. It has been curious that throughout history the most powerful agents against God do not act on their own. They work through humans. Even the devil’s first strike against God was deceiving Eve. Powerful demons similarly are cunning and nigh invisible. They know any damage they did pale in comparison to sin. So instead they cultivate it. They take roots in communities and treat people like cattle, their own personal sin farms. For sin is the very thing that separates man from his creator. I have a personal theory that demons are jealous of us, of our unique ability to harbor sin, to incubate it. All it takes is a nudge, a gentle push to let a man consume himself. And history has proven that one sinful man can ruin the world.”

“Demons jealous of us, huh? Kind of a disturbing thought. Do you think he at least could have been part of a cult? Or did he just get wrapped up in this one demon’s business?”

“Now that is quite an idea. I do not have a clear answer to give but I did notice something interesting down in the underground room.”

“And what’s that?”

“An altar.”

“I faintly recall something like that down there. Though I tried not to look because of all the…” Jason shuddered. “I’d rather not mention it.”

“Indeed. It was a gruesome scene. I’m sorry you had to witness that.”

“Yeah. Me too.” Jason said while nervously scratching the back of his neck. He’d rather forget the whole mess but his curiosity was piqued. “So…was there anything special about it?”

Michael shuffled through his notes. “It’s difficult to say. All along the edges were inscriptions to a name I hadn’t heard in many years. An old god of the Phoenicians with roots in Egypt and the Levant. By all accounts from the Bible, however, he is simply an ancient demon. Curious, to find Baal worship out here and in this current age.”

“Baal. I’ve read about him. Something about a pillar of fire, right?”

Michael nodded. “Correct. In 1 Kings it tells the story of the prophet Elijah, who confronted the Israelites who turned away from God for this Baal. He challenged Baal’s priests to a test. Both would pray to their gods before a bonfire, and whosever fire was lit had proven themselves a worthy divinity. Of course, the priests of Baal prayed all day to little fruition, but a pillar of flame promptly descended upon Elijah’s. Proving the strength of the one true God.”

“Yeah, I remember now. I can’t recall much else though.”

Michael flipped to the next page. “There are other trace mentions of this demon. In 1 Samuel and Jeremiah for instance, where there is a notable sacrifice of children.”

Jason grimaced. “I just don’t get it. Why? And why here? Of all the demons to turn to.”

“It is odd, I don’t pretend to understand. The Bible gives little screen time to demons in general. Baal is somewhat unique, however, in his repetitive incursions with God’s people. A truly prideful and ambitious demon. Every time the Lord would shut him down he’d always scrawl back up somewhere else, only to be cast down again.”

“Sounds like a real smart dude.”

Michael rubbed his chin. “Demons are funny like that. It doesn’t matter how beaten or battered they are, the most dangerous ones will always come back, with a knock and a smile.” Stuffing away his notebook, Michael retrieved the novel he’d been reading and ran his finger down a page. “This book had a fascinating quote that I think speaks quite keenly of a demon’s nature. If you don’t mind.”

“No, please.”

“A great king rules from within a great castle. But a great demon rules from within a great king. It’s succinct: A demon will do anything to tell you what your sinful nature craves to hear. That you don’t need God or anyone else. That you’re on top, a king. But as we saw with poor Mr Jamison tonight, you just swap chains to a new taskmaster.”

By a ray of passing moonlight, Jason caught the uncanny title of Michael’s book and felt his stomach churn. In large bold cursive was written Man’s Curse across the blue cover with the picture of a naked man being led on a leash by a small imp.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~End of Excerpt~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can find Justin here: 

Website: Kingdom Come Series (will be up soon, I was going to release it closer to my book release)

Wordpress = (similarly coming when the website and paperback is released)

Facebook

He will also be submitting posts at To Make A Kingdom at tumblr.com

If you have liked what you have read here and want to preview more of this novel or buy Kingdom Come or DH Database Vol. 1: A collection of Kingdom Come short stories click on the BUY/PREVIEW icons on the book images above. 

Readers and reviews are an author's best asset, so I encourage any reader who likes reading in the genres of Christian inspirational, fantasy, spiritual warfare, to consider reading Kingdom Come and DH Database Vol. 1: A collection of Kingdom Come short stories submit a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (or any other social media you subscribe to).

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