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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Dominique “Dom” Francis is the pastor of Christ First Always church who is having something of an existential crisis in the Christian fiction novel Free Dom by Blake Nail. Dom has got his head in Venice and keeps kicking the ball back and forth as he contemplates whether or not relocating is a good idea, the ramifications of such a move, and the practicality of “what actualizing the long-time dream of life in Venice was going to look like.” The flock he ministers to are revealed in a series of vignettes and slice-of-life conversations with them individually, not only showing us who they are but letting the reader see who Dom is. When Dom's position as the pastor is threatened by a video and the machinations of the Elders, deciding whether to stay or go gets tossed into a fast-moving now-or-never timeline.
Blake Nail's chops as a supremely skilled writer are on full display in Free Dom. The narrative is deftly executed and there are surprises that a reader cannot possibly predict that emerge in the crumbs along Nail's pacing trail. Dom is entirely relatable and his view is profoundly honest as he voices hilarious beliefs, like how using four-letter words is perfectly acceptable and regarding the sad state of a beer-loving Catholic priest and friend he meets for theological discussions in shady bars. I loved watching Dom's progression as a character roll in tandem with the decline of the organizational structure of his church, and my jaw hit the floor when a manipulative pro-baptism scheme was deployed by the Elders. Overall, this is a remarkably good and intelligently written book that was a delight to read.