“In this exquisitely disturbing look at humanity, Abell takes us on the journey of a man haunted by inner demons and a frightening past. In his wonderfully descriptive prose, Abell tells a story where racism, mental illness, and spirituality merge in unexpected places in the years surrounding the Civil War. A tale of love, war, madness, and triumph, Days of Purgatory is one of those rare books you are saddened to finish.”—CHRISTIE LEWIS, Southern Idaho Living Magazine
Days of Purgatory is a mystery thriller set against the backdrop of westward expansion. The action and intrigue rolls across the frontier landscape of the 19th century as the ensemble cast of characters is swept along on the currents of time, chance, fate, or destiny. Their lives intersect at those hard crossroads where faith meets reality.
From the idealism of the River Brethren of Conoy Creek to the passions of the abolitionist movement, Deke Coburn becomes entangled in the horrors and societal upheaval of the Civil War. His story is part historical epic, part spiritual odyssey. He is a man on the run, encountering friendship where he can find it.
In his travels to escape his past and come to terms with his own wrongdoing, he stumbles upon a nightmare—a loopy twitch—who preys upon innocence. What happens next sets in motion terror that threatens to destroy the future. He and his companions are thrust into the place where good—however ambiguous it may be—must make its stand against evil.
It explores some disturbing themes regarding the depravity of the human heart and does so in a manner that ought to cause readers to examine the meaning of faith, hope, spirituality, and the broken nature of life. Exasperating secrets unfold and are unraveled in a story populated by heroes and villains, deceivers and believers, and a few in-betweeners.
“Days of Purgatory is an impressive debut novel from author Ken R. Abell that examines the human condition in all its darkness, light, and shades of grey. Couched in the years surrounding the American Civil War, Abell weaves a narrative in crisp, poetic prose with themes of faith, fate, duty, honor, love, and regret. From the opening sentence, we are pulled into the story of Deke Coburn: a man whose idealism is forced to face the realities of racism and war with a country on the brink of wrenching itself apart. The consequences of his decisions send him on a journey searching for answers and provides the reader a look at a long since lost American landscape peppered with characters so vivid that they live with you long after the final page has been turned. At times disturbingly violent and surprisingly tender, Abell proves to be adept at pacing and building tension with passages that push the plot along and never let it lag. A must read for anyone who craves quality storytelling full of intelligence and heart.”—WILLIAM D. HASTINGS, author of Behind Prison Walls
“Ken Abell is a gifted story-teller and writer. His ability to interpret the cutthroat days that accompanied the western expansion is impressive and interesting. Moreover, his insight into the psychodynamics of balancing peace and justice, and reconciling conscience and advocacy, create a subplot that will challenge the reader to rethink tenets of faith that are held without reflection or scrutiny. This is not a sugar-coated presentation of these themes. Be prepared to feel what the characters are feeling and to wrestle with important questions. You may not agree with how the story resolves, but it is unlikely you will have doubt about where you are standing in relation to it. Thanks for the great read and intellectual stimulation!”—GLENN A. ROBITAILLE is the Director of Spiritual and Religious Care at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.
“Abell is a masterful storyteller. Here he has woven an intricate tale about Deke Coburn, a man shell-shocked by the horrors of Civil War battlefields. He wanders westward, where he must come to terms with the blood on his hands and his failings as a human being. He encounters both good and bad on his journey, and is finally forced into a confrontation with evil. This is not a one-dimensional story. Its compelling cast of characters moves the plot along with a natural ease, and stay alive long after the last page is turned. There is no place for the reader to hide because Abell has the ability and flair to put one right in the middle of the action. The western motif is enhanced by exceptionally gripping prose. This novel, the first in a series, is highly recommended.” —S. G. Wyant