Going into Bailey’s second novel, Rage’s Echo, I really didn’t know what to expect, as this was my first experience with her work (I’m proud to say it won’t be my last.)
From the get-go, the reader is magically transported to Jerry’s world, and doesn’t let up much until the final page. The aforementioned scene shows the reader the dire peril this wretched soul is in, with a liberal air of mystery.
This is only the beginning, though. Next, we’re introduced to our main protagonist, Jessica Roman-Dell, a paranormal investigator. Alongside her is Sydney (whose questions about faith make for fascinating discussion,) and Wayne. Since a young age, he has had to endure an already trying life as one with cerebral palsy.
These characters aren’t cardboard flat, either. Bailey clearly spent countless hours familiarizing herself with them. She’s able to expose their weaknesses and strengths; dreams, ambitions, even their convictions. As the novel progresses, she sheds light on a dark past that seemingly affects them all, and inevitably draws the quartet together. In essence, there is no black and white here. There are very few innocents.. Thematically, I think what she’s trying to convey here is quite poignant, and relevant to just about anyone: we live in a broken world where very few of us are genuinely innocent. We all have our flaws, obstacles to overcome. And with faith and strength from the Lord, we can overcome anything.
If I had to choose just character that still resonates today, two weeks later, I would undoubtedly and with no hesitation say Jerry Madison. Perhaps that’s a little morbid, considering his past, but I found myself identifying with his wretchedness and despair that’s beyond my ability to adequately describe. I have first-hand experience with depression, and its debilitating reality. Rarely getting out of bed, eating only when absolutely necessary, that was me. Years later, I still haven’t fully recovered (it’s a life-long process, I guess,) from my poor self-image, feelings of not ever being good enough, and constantly becoming easily discouraged..
But enough about me. In truth, I hadn’t realized until now just how much I truly identified with Jerry.. I miss him dearly..
I thought I’d add that it’s clearly apparent that Bailey had a blast writing about him, which- in turn- made him a lot of fun to read about.
The author also tackles some controversial topics, such as pro-life/pro-choice, spirituality, the afterlife, the impacts of childhood trauma, to name a few.. At the heart of the novel, however, is forgiveness and redemption, and the necessity of letting go in order to move on. This and Jerry’s character are definitely my favorite aspects, and probably the novel’s strongest elements.
Up until the second half, I was loving it. And although there are several profound scenes in the latter half, coupled with a dark twist that may just blow your mind (I found it underwhelming, slightly contrived and convenient, myself,) and Bailey’s impressive writing, the overall story kind of fell flat. Perhaps my expectations were too high, as I thought it would escalate much, much more, with significantly darker overtones.
All in all, an impressive sophomore effort. A little verbose at times, but even the best writers can get a bit wordy, right? I love her style, and the beautiful visuals throughout took Rage’s Echofrom 3 stars to 4. Keep up the good work, my friend!
“..Half a mile to the southwest, the Ohio River flowed by in all its brownish-blue glory. Most of the village of Eleanor lay below in the flood plain. The green hills of Kentucky rose up from the other side of the river, where another village–Iron Springs– sprawled out along the riverbank like a mirror image of the Ohio side..”