Free Dom

Christian - Fiction
414 Pages
Reviewed on 03/26/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

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.

Vincent Dublado

A man of faith turns his back on his pastoral calling in Blake Nail’s Free Dom. Pastor Dominique Francis feels that he is well on his way to six feet under. He is not suffering from any terminal illness; what he has is the kind where you have no idea when it’ll be over and you wait day after day with the rest of the naturally dying population. He realizes that being the pastor of a church since he was twenty-two is not the healthiest of career paths. Daydreaming of another life, he needs change. Not that he is growing sick and tired of the Lord and assuring salvation for sinners, but he wants to be one of the sinners rather than the one preaching and spreading the good news. His desire for change is aggravated by the fact that his personal life is not perfect and he is not spared from the existential challenges that God has thrown at him. Perhaps the Hotel Al Ponte Antico in Venice can wash all his cares away.

Free Dom is a silent, monumental work of Christian fiction and a thought-provoking one. It puts you into introspection and lets you think about your life choices, and you look back to see if you have any regrets or if it was all worth it. It is the type of story filled with questions, doubts, devotion, and experiences. The plot is very simple, yet it has good reason to revel in its simplicity. Blake Nail’s narrative reflects his careful and critical examination of a religious man in need of salvation from the dreary monotony of his vocation. This is the story’s aspect that impressed me most of all for it clearly reflects that serving the Lord can also get to you. Is it another one of those blasphemous stories crafted for the sake of free inquiry? It all depends on how you interpret Pastor Dom’s statement when he says to just live your life and be your genuine self. Because at some point and in some way, everyone comes face to face with their own failings. This is a must-read story for its brilliant use of theology in framing a well-grounded story.