Are the Russians coming? When C. David Belt adds a B52, loaded with nuclear weapons, to his story, drama runs high. Especially when the B52 disappears with Josh Kilmore aboard. His wife Tabitha sets out with her stepfather, Mike, using unorthodox methods to solve the mystery, not realizing the deadly powers which lie ahead. Will Josh be able to remain true to his wife? Will the B52 and its deadly cargo be found before something somewhere blows up? What villain is behind this dastardly plot? With Dave at the keyboard, you never know how the story will play out.

Read The Witch, the Warlock, and the Siren of the Damned to find out. If you enjoyed Dave’s other books you’ll certainly love this 5-star reading.

If he keeps writing like this, they’ll have to add more stars.

J. F. Harrison – Blackfoot, Idaho

In this last installment of The Witch of White Lady Hollow trilogy, C. David Belt has again delivered a gripping, intense, and mind-bending read.  In The Witch, the Warlock, and the Siren of the Damned, we find Josh, now an Air Force pilot, confronted daily with tests of his intelligence, ingenuity, and instincts.  Flying B-52’s is not for the faint of heart, but Josh is up to the task.  He also successfully maintains his high moral standards in the face of ridicule, opportunity, and uncertainty.  These experiences have prepared him for the ultimate test of his character, his expertise, and his faith as he is suddenly thrust into an alien and alluring island of temptation and evil masquerading as welcoming and inviting.

Tabitha continues to use the Power to protect her children from danger, strengthen her ties to Josh, and help those around her.  Now she is faced with the most dangerous and demanding test of all: to find and rescue Josh; and if she is successful, she will also help to save millions from annihilation.

Magnetism is a predominant theme in this book: magnets of temptation, of iron, and most especially the magnetic Power of love, loyalty, faith, and determination.  When conventional magnets fail – fuel gauge, compass, etc. our heroes must rely on the rock-solid foundation of their commitment to each other, to their family, and to their fellow man.

The Witch, the Warlock, and the Siren of the Damned is a compelling, fascinating, and captivating tale.  Mature LDS readers will be hooked from the first chapter and drawn into a complex, riveting world of characters from Greek mythology along with modern-day heroes.

Leslie Whatcott – St. George, Utah

It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, but to someone, it was.

Last night, Cindy, my mother, and I were in the Provo City Center Temple, doing sealings. We were acting as living proxies for the dead. Cindy and I were sealed as proxies for time and eternity for married couples who have passed on so that, if they choose, they may be together as husband and wife forever. My mother had the opportunity to serve as a proxy in sealings as well with an elderly gentleman who was in the session without his eternal companion. (I assumed his sweet companion is currently on the other side of the veil, as is my father, waiting for the glorious and joyful day of reunion.) Each of us were also able to serve as proxies for the sealings of sons and daughters to parents. The sealing ordinance is the pinnacle of service in the temple, the culmination of all the work that has been done before (baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, washings, anointings, and endowments). This final, glorious ordinance is the uniting of husbands and wives and families for eternity.

It’s my favorite thing to do in the temple. And when I get to kneel at the altar, holding hands with my sweetheart, looking into her eyes… In other faiths and traditions, couples renew their wedding vows. This is something like that, only while doing so, we get to reunite other couples who have passed beyond the veil of this mortal life. It is a sweet service, and it is a joy to serve with my sweet, lovely eternal companion.

But that isn’t what I wish to share about being in the temple yesterday. (At least, not all that I wish to share.)

After we finished our first sealing session, we volunteered to do a second session. Sometimes, that’s not possible, either because the next session is full or because of our own time constraints. But we had that opportunity last night, and so we took it.

And I’m so glad we did.

In the second sealing session, there was a young man sitting alone, i.e., without his wife. I don’t know the circumstances that brought him to the temple alone last night. (As for how young he is, we found out that he was in his early forties, but, hey, almost everyone looks young to me.) He kept staring at Cindy and me and grinning.

Now, the temple is not usually a place where unnecessary conversations occur. It is a place of silent prayer, of contemplation, of communing with God. It’s not that it’s improper to talk (except during the ordinances themselves), it just doesn’t happen a lot—and rarely above a whisper.

However, after the second sealing session was complete, this young man introduced himself and said, “I was a missionary twenty-two years ago, and you had us over to your home for dinner. I remember, Brother Belt, you were reading scriptures with your children during dinner, and I was so impressed by that. And you had a parrot on your shoulder. I was going through a rough patch on my mission, and that experience really helped me through it. Thank you.”

It wasn’t a big deal. We just did what we always did. We read scriptures as a family almost every night at dinner. It’s a habit Cindy and I established early in our lives as parents. Sometimes, with six children, reading scriptures at dinner wasn’t always a spiritual experience. Sometimes, it was chaotic. Like herding cats. But we made it a habit and have carried that habit through to this day. (Though, I readily admit it is easier with just Cindy, my mother, and myself.)

It was just a small thing. An everyday thing. But somehow, it made a difference in that young elder’s life.

You never know who you are going to touch, just by your everyday, sometimes chaotic attempts to live the gospel.

It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, but to someone, it was.

C. David Belt has again delivered an engrossing, intriguing, and at times terrifying read.  Best understood after reading Book 1 of the trilogy (The Witch of White Lady Hollow), this second book once again follows Tabitha Moonshadow (now Kilmore), along with husband, Josh, and adorable baby Joseph.  The Kilmores are poor college students, living on love and dreams.  They embrace each other and their shared use of The Power.  It saves them, yet it also leads them into the very heart of evil.  As they draw on this Power to save themselves and those around them from the forces that would destroy, they also turn to their faith and trust in God to help them in their battle.  As the story unfolds, we find amazing contrasts of innocence vs. malice, faith vs. despair, and love vs. lust.

One predominant theme in this book is that of masks.  Masks, both literal and figurative, add to the suspense of the story.  Who can be trusted? What are people hiding? Who is good and who is unspeakably evil?  Even the best of intentions can be hidden behind a mask in the face of uncertainty.  As we see some of these masks slipping at times, we understand more fully what people may be concealing: fear of being judged; fear of being rejected; fear of feelings exposed that might be better left covered up; and even the most depraved intentions behind a mask of goodness and apparent goodwill. 

Recommended for the mature LDS reader, caution for paranormal, depravity, violence, sexual assault, suspense, and language.

Leslie Whatcott – St. George, Utah

Belt’s book kept me on the edge of my seat as he masterfully took us into the journey of a B-52 pilot in the midst of a nuclear crisis. I was found rooting for the heroes of the story and intrigued by all the twists and turns. If you like horror but want a hero that has strong morals, read his book.

Marie Woodward – author of Between Here and Zion

This book… had me guessing from the start. Familiar characters we’ve already fallen for and are invested in, danger at every turn, and a twist at the end. There’s another mission to save the earth, even if it means never returning to the ones you love. Belt will keep you guessing till the very end.

Jenny Flake Rabe, sweet romance author

David Belt does it again. Tabitha Moonshadow is now Tabitha Kilmore, with a hansom Air Force ROTC husband, and an adorable little son. As students at BYU, they lead a normal student life. Well—a not so normal life with C. David Belt at the computer, controlling the scenes. Dave is a master at laying out a horror story and telling you what is going on and still popping up surprises, especially at the end.

Someone is kidnapping young women, and Tabitha realizes that, because of her power, they are after her. Can she and her husband, Josh, keep her and little Joseph safe? And can they help the police stop the killer? Follow their hair-raising twisting-turning adventures in the horror novel, The Witch and the Devourer of Souls. 5-star reading for any horror story fan. And we haven’t heard the last from Dave. More exciting reading to come. He hasn’t run out of villains yet.

Jim Harrison – Blackfoot, Idaho

I have literally waited YEARS for this to be released! We recorded this so long, long ago, in a tabernacle far, far away…

Paul Harvey used to tell wonderful, true stories on the radio. At the end of each story, there would be a twist, a bit of truth that changed everything. He would always conclude with, “And now you know… the rest of the story.”

There was a particular occasion, many years ago, where I repeated a derogatory story about the new CEO of my company to a coworker. The story came from a trusted source, someone I highly respected. The trusted source sincerely believed what he had told me. And the story was true. It was, on the surface, damning. But it was not the whole truth.

After the story had spread through the company, I learned that I only knew half (or perhaps less than half) of the story. When I learned that there was indeed more to it, when I learned the part that changed everything, I was heartsick. I went to my immediate supervisor (who was married to the CEO) and confessed and apologized. Then I offered my resignation. I couldn’t afford to be out of work at the time—I had a young and growing family to support, and honestly, there has never been a time I could afford to be out of work—but I had committed a wrong, and I had to correct it. I needed to repent.

My supervisor looked at me for a long moment, then said something I did NOT expect: “You impress me.”

Then she flatly rejected my resignation.

I next went to the CEO and apologized to him. His reaction was quite gracious as well.

I did not lose my job that day, even though I think I deserved to.

I did everything in my power to correct my mistake, but I doubt I was able to repair all the damage.

And yet, the CEO and his wife frankly forgave me. We worked together for a few years before a corporate merger forced them both out. In that time, I came to greatly respect them both and cherish their friendship.

In one of my favorite hymns, Susan Evans McCloud wrote, “In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.”

We never know what burdens another may be carrying. When we think we know the whole story, most of the time, we actually don’t. There is only one perfect Judge, and I am not He.

In the army of ancient Rome, there were many brutal ways of punishing soldiers who committed offenses, and many of these resulted in the death of the offender. One such capital punishment was carried out by the offender’s friends. If he had done something that was worthy of death, often his friends were ordered to beat him to death with their fists.

As the commander of the Continental Army, General George Washington, after the conclusion of active hostilities with Great Britain but while he needed to keep his army in the field and ready to fight, discovered a plot among some of his soldiers to march on Philadelphia and force Congress to acquiesce to their demands. He ordered the conspirators to be executed by firing squad—a firing squad composed of their closest friends.

Why? Why were the friends of the guilty ordered to execute them? Because the friends probably had known what the guilty were planning and had chosen not to stop them. Perhaps they had even aided and abetted them. If, of course, it was found that the friends knew nothing, they were not held accountable.

In ancient Israel, under the Mosaic Law (given by Jehovah, even Jesus Christ), capital punishment was carried out by stoning, and the accuser had to throw the first stone.

When Jesus was confronted with the woman taken in adultery (a capital crime), he said to her accusers, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” One by one, the accusers departed, convicted by their own consciences. I have often wondered, where was the man with whom the woman had committed adultery? Why was he not brought before the Savior along with the woman? I have also often wondered if he was perhaps part of the crowd or watching from a safe distance. When the accusers had all fled, Jesus told the guilty woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” He determined that she had suffered enough, but he charged her to abandon the sin. He did not let her off the hook entirely, but he showed her mercy. It was up to her to decide if she would continue in sin or repent and be forgiven. He also said on another occasion, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”

Perhaps in that crowd of potential stone-throwers, there were those who had been injured by the sin or one like it. Perhaps there were children whose families had been broken. What about the woman’s husband, the man she’d betrayed? What about the wife of the absent-yet-equally-guilty man, the woman whom he had betrayed?

What about the wronged? What about those hurt by the sin?

The Master Healer can and will heal them as well, if they turn to Him.

Perhaps there were those in the crowd who simply got swept up the furor of emotions. They saw the crowd and heard the shouting, so they gathered. They heard the accusations, they believed the accusations (I mean, the woman did not deny the accusations, and the Savior did not declare that she was innocent of the charges), and yet these people stood there with stones in there hands, ready to meet out justice. Ready to kill.

But when the Savior suggested they look at their own consciences, they all walked away. All of them. There was not one innocent among them.

Imagine you are in the crowd with a stone in your hand. Once the stone-throwing starts, what happens if some of the stones miss? I mean, does every stone-thrower have perfect aim? What if some of those stones bounce or ricochet? What if some of those stones hit innocents in the crowd?

If you cast the first stone, you are declaring that you are without sin. If you cast any stone, you are declaring that the death you cause is justified. And if there are innocents hurt, well shucky darn. Them’s the breaks, folks! And if you throw that stone with hatred in your heart, you are guilty as well. Jesus said, “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.”

Hatred is never justified. Hatred will never make you happy.

Vengeance will never make you whole. And if to achieve your vengeance, you destroy innocents as—oh, well, can’t be helped—unavoidable collateral damage, you have become a monster.

But you can still choose to put down the stone and walk away. You can still choose to encourage other would-be stone-throwers to do the same.

Truth matters. Truth ALWAYS matters.

If the only way you can win on the “Battlefield of Ideas” is to be dishonest, you undermine the credibility of your legitimate arguments, and you simply don’t deserve to win.

If your idea of an “adult discussion” is to engage in character assassination or encourage (even tacitly) death threats and other threats of violence, you aren’t interested in the truth, only in sounding a trump before you as you signal your own virtue and basking in the praise of sycophants.

And if you think for one nanosecond that someone deserves to die or be assaulted simply because you disagree with them, YOU have a problem.

Another epic adventure from C. David Belt, and a special treat for Edgar Allen Poe fans. Lenore O’ Corbain, a somewhat edgier heroine than Belt’s standard characters, has the power to communicate with birds and uses her abilities to investigate her family’s murder. The lore behind Lenore’s powers is intriguing, and I’m hoping to see more of this element in future books. With a sweet romance, heartwarming interactions with ravens and parakeets alike, and the kind of horrifying, gut-wrenching gore I’ve come to expect from Belt’s works, An Enchantress of Ravens is absolutely thrilling.

Elissa C. Nysetvold – author of “Nightwalker”

Choosing Hell

In John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Lucifer proclaims, “Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.” Lucifer willingly chose Hell over Heaven. And I’m certain he felt justified in doing so.

Recently, we have experienced yet another senseless tragedy, yet another monstrous act of violence, yet another horrific slaughter of innocents. Such villainy is all too common today. Across the globe, evil men (and women) somehow find justification for evil.

And in the wake of this latest horrific act, many—too many—will attempt to seize on the tragedy, to cash in on the grief to promote their own selfish agenda, to justify their own evil.

The vultures are circling yet again, salivating over the prospect of feeding on the dead.

Details are emerging about the shooter’s terrible homelife, about the bullying he endured at the hands of others. He was a victim certainly. But somehow, in his mind, he twisted all this into a justification for murder. He justified himself killing innocent children.

I will not name him. I will not give him, even posthumously, any notoriety. At the very least, he deserves ignominy.

He is dead now and has gone to the justice of God.

He was slain by a courageous Border Patrol agent, while local law enforcement waited more than 40 minutes without acting.

May God bless the hero who risked his own life to prevent more slaughter. I wish I knew his name, because HE deserves to be named. (The gunman’s bullet ripped through the hero’s hat. That’s how close he came to sacrificing his own life.)

Shame on those who will use this monstrous act for their own ends, never letting “a good crisis go to waste.” They say,  “But I’m just trying to make the world a better place!”  

To which I say, “Seriously?” You think you are the heroes here? You’re ghouls, feasting on the corpses of murdered children.

Rather than exploit this tragedy or simply wallow in the horror of it, let us examine our own hearts. I certainly am. May we turn to God. May we beg His Son to heal the wounds in our own souls before we justify evil or exploit evil for own ends or give in to grief.

Hatred, no matter how justified it might feel, will never make us happy. Hatred and love cannot co-exist in our hearts. Let us choose love over hatred.

Revenge, no matter how justified it might feel, will never make us happy. Revenge is not justice. The ancient Nephite prophet, Mormon, witnessed the complete destruction of his own people, slaughtered in the name of revenge and hatred. I’m certain the Lamanites felt justified in genocide. Mormon said, “Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.” (Mormon 8:20)

Self-righteousness will never make us happy. It only makes us feel (falsely) superior.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Being a victim for the rest of our lives will never make us happy. Victimhood is its own self-perpetuating hell. Let us choose Heaven over Hell.

Having been a victim never justifies bullying, no matter who the target is. Bullies target those who cannot fight back or defend themselves. Bullies often cut their victims off from any hope of succor. Yet, too often, we cheer the bully on or stand aside and let the bully act with impunity. (Because, after all, the bully was once a victim, right?) Bullying is cowardly. Having experienced evil at the hands of others will never justify committing evil ourselves.

Evil never justifies evil. No matter how righteous we may feel in exacting our revenge, we are never justified in hurting innocents.

“Okay,” we say, “but I’m not going out and shooting children. All I’m doing is <insert-petty-evil-here>. What I’m doing is righteous, even if I am committing some petty evil. God will justify me in committing sin in the name of good. Surely, the object of my hatred deserves what they get. And if there are innocents who suffer as collateral damage, oh, well. After all, I’m the righteous one!”

But God says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20)

The answer is—and always has been—love. In other words, the answer—is and always has been—Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the One who atoned for our sins and failings (and we all have them), the One who will judge us all in the end.

When faced with a choice between love and hate, Heaven and Hell, why would we willingly choose Hell?

A gruesome murder, a mysterious killer, and a woman with a peculiar power over ravens. Sound intriguing? That’s because it is.

An Enchantress of Ravens, by C. David Belt, was definitely a fun read. The main character, Lenore, has a very cool set of powers that she uses in the name of good, although it doesn’t always work out that way.

And then there’s the villains, my favorite part. These evildoers made me ache to see them get some comeuppance by the end.

And it all ties together with some great side characters, a blooming romance, some fun lore, and lots of Edgar Allen Poe references throughout.

I’d highly recommend this fun, fast-paced read.

Jared Agard – Author of “Dread Watch”

C. David Belt never disappoints. An Enchantress of Ravens took me for a wild ride and hit all my shiver spots.

Marsha Ward – 2015 Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

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