cover image Anathema


Colleen Coble. Thomas Nelson Publishers, $22.99 (327pp) ISBN 978-1-59554-247-2

Although Coble, a veteran novelist of inspirational romantic suspense, has not tried her hand at Amish-themed fiction, the Amish setting is the most compelling aspect of this disappointing suspense novel. Not only does Coble lace the story with the kinds of details that fans of Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter will love, she sets the novel in a northern Indiana Amish sect with some unique quirks not seen in Lancaster County-based fiction. The plot, however, is predictable-Hannah, a young Amish woman, leaves the community for love with an Englischer but finds the outside world fraught with menaces and trials. Dangers lurk back at home, too, where various members of Hannah's Amish family turn up dead. This book doesn't showcase Coble's usual daft hand with suspense: several attempts on Hannah's life arise, play out, and are dispatched with in as few as ten sentences each, scarcely permitting readers to believe that real danger is afoot. Although the story has a first-rate setting and some thoughtful musings on Christian forgiveness, the plot is often hackneyed, the scene changes abrupt, and some of the characters-including a stock-villain abusive husband-one-dimensional.