Review: The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker
JD's Rating: 3.5 out of 5 bookmarks

If you've been around Bookworm Banquet for any length of time, you know that I am a big fan of Ted Dekker's books. His Martyr's Song, Blessed, and Circle series have long been favorites for me. So any time I hear of a new Ted Dekker novel, I get excited. He teamed up with his daughter Rachelle, also an accomplished author, for this book. Though I've not yet read any of Rachelle's novels, after reading the synopsis and seeing the cover for The Girl Behind the Red Rope I was really looking forward to reading it.

I want to make one thing clear at the outset; this is a current-day story set in a secluded area in the hills of Tennessee. I didn't realize this when I began reading and initially thought that it was some sort of dystopian/post-apocalyptic thriller or near-future suspense tale. It is neither of those genres though it is suspenseful. And it becomes clear in the latter half of the book that it is a contemporary setting, but it's not quite as obvious in the early chapters.

Our lead character, Grace, is a wonderful one to accompany through this suspense-filled and intriguing tale. I use the word "accompany" intentionally here as the story is written in the first-person perspective from Grace's point of view and the reader is often given a look into her thoughts. She is the unwitting catalyst to everything that begins to unfold in the tiny, out-of-the-way community that serves as our story backdrop. The action does not kick off immediately but once it starts it continues to slowly build all the way to the climactic end.

As is typical of most of Ted Dekker's books, there is a lot of symbolism and allegory woven into the plot, setting, and characters of this story. I do not want to spoil anything for you because I think that part of the appeal of the story is to uncover for yourself what the various elements represent.

Rachelle & Ted Dekker
Another common trait of a Ted Dekker novel is the overall lesson or moral that you walk away with at the end. The Girl Behind the Red Rope has this trait as well, though it becomes more and more overt as the story progresses and, in my view, it was much too heavy-handed. Subtlety goes a long way and in the case of this book, it just came across as too preachy. I don't need quite so much explanation of the allegory. In fiction that has an underlying message, I prefer books to let the reader explore the ideas and draw their own conclusions rather than having them all laid out.

And while we're on the subject of moral themes, I will say that I do take some issue with some of the theology that seems to be espoused in this book, as I did with the two volumes of the Beyond the Circle series. It's not completely clear what the specific doctrinal positions are that the authors are espousing but it was enough for me to have some qualms about endorsing it. But I don't read fiction to inform or reinforce my beliefs and perspectives on Scripture so I had no trouble overlooking those aspects of the book.

There were a few moments that contain some graphic content that some might get a bit uncomfortable with, but I didn't think it was too egregious. There are multiple deaths, one particularly evil character that makes some seductive moves on another, and the "beings" which are elements in the overall allegorical tale could be a little disturbing and dark for some. As Ted Dekker has said in the past regarding his books, they often begin very dark but the light eventually shines through and overcomes the darkness. Such is the case with this book.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed The Girl Behind the Red Rope. It was an interesting and compelling plotline for the most part with an engaging lead character. Apart from the slight annoyance with the over-explanation of the morals and themes, it's a solid suspense read and it kept me guessing to the end. Diehard Dekker fans will enjoy it as well as readers of suspense/thrillers seeking to not-so-subtly illustrate a point. I recommend it for ages 18 and up.

J.D. Sutter is the producer and host of the Bookworm Banquet podcast and editor of the blog. He is the founder of Porchlight Family Media, a network of quality audio programming and review websites based in Phoenix, AZ.

Disclosure: The publisher provided us with a free copy of this book for promotional purposes. A favorable review was not required. This post contains affiliate links.

J.D. Sutter

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