Wilderness Rising


 When I elected to review “Wilderness Rising” I did not realize it was a sequel to “The Church Builder”. Since I had not read the first book, I decided to pick up a copy to read while I was waiting for this one to arrive. I am so thankful that I did. I would have been mostly lost if I had not already read “The Church Builder”. The series is about a centuries-long battle between two opposing groups, the Wilderness and the Garden. One group is composed of atheists and the other of supposed believers. Unfortunately, in their ongoing war, both sides are often less than ethical and casualties are just part of the battle.

Bethany Barclay has unwittingly become the central focus of the battle after being set up by one of the groups who hope she can find the ancient relic her best friend had possibly found before her own death. With the FBI and other law enforcement agencies determined to find her because they believe she is a terrorist, Bethany has followed her friend’s trail to England in hopes of finding the Pilate Stone. With both the Garden and the Wilderness after her as well as other unknown parties, Bethany’s life has become surreal with never a moment to feel safe but she is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery because another young person’s life is also in danger.

There is so much going on in both “The Church Builder” and “Wilderness Rising” that I was often confused. I decided that the author probably planned it that way to give the reader a sense of Bethany’s confusion and desperation as she raced against time for her own life as well as Janice’s. Jam-packed with action, danger, and suspense, “Wilderness Rising” raced to a strong finish with plenty of surprises along the way.

I enjoyed both volumes of the Church Builder series and would recommend them to all who enjoy suspense that keeps the reader on the edge of the seat and never sure what will happen next. Both are lengthy novels but I found myself unable to put them down. 

This book was provided for review by the BookLook Blogger Program of Harper Collins Christian Publishing.


From A. L. Shields-pseudonym for New York Times best-selling author Stephen L. Carter-comes the thrilling sequel to The Church Builder.

An age-old struggle between the enemies of God and the champions of faith.

A rumored relic that could prove Christ performed miracles-or declare him a fraud.

A woman on the run from international authorities.

Bethany Barclay is fighting to outwit the Wilderness, an ancient and powerful cabal bent on destroying Christianity. Its members murdered her best friend, framed her for acts of terrorism, and captured the brilliant teen hacker she vowed to protect. To ransom the girl, Bethany must find the Pilate Stone-a mysterious first-century artifact that might not even exist.

But she’s not the only one looking for the stone. In an international landscape of double agents, Bethany finds it impossible to tell friend from foe. The Garden, a secret group of powerful intellectuals sworn to save the Church and help Bethany, is collapsing under the rising power of the Wilderness. And an ocean separates her from her only proven ally-the lone wolf Ray Fuentes, who has battles of his own to fight.

A sparse trail of breadcrumbs takes Bethany across Europe into a labyrinth of academics, art historians, and followers of a reclusive monastic order. As her quest transforms into an ever more complex and dangerous game, unlikely actors in the drama emerge. Some are ruthlessly devoted to preserving a world where faith is possible. Others aim to brutally, and finally, undermine belief.

Including her own.


A.L. ShieldsA. L. Shields is a pseudonym for Stephen L. Carter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught for thirty years. He is also the author of seven acclaimed works of nonfiction and five best-selling novels. His first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002), spent eleven weeks on the New York Times best seller list.