They are wrong. In the small town of Eden, Utah, a blind girl named Rachelle Matthews is about to find out just how wrong.
When a procedure meant to restore Rachelle's sight goes awry, she begins to dream of another world so real that she wonders if Earth might only be a dream experienced when she falls asleep in that reality. Who is a simple blind girl to have such strange and fantastic dreams?
She's the prophesied one who must find and recover five ancient seals--in both worlds--before powerful enemies destroy her. If Rachelle succeeds in her quest, peace will reign. If she fails, both worlds will forever be locked in darkness.
So begins a two-volume saga of high stakes and a mind-bending quest to find an ancient path that will save humanity. The clock is ticking; the end rushes forward.
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IT WAS the same nightmare I'd had every night for the past ten years, beginning at age six. The dream betrayed my deepest fears that nothing would ever change, but still, it was just a dream. I reminded myself every morning.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
My name is Rachelle Matthews, and I was born in a small mountain community well off the grid. The town was roughly ninety miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah — close enough to find help if the need arose, and far enough to be a world unto itself. When I say off the grid I mean completely self-sustaining in every way imaginable.
Eden, population 153 at last counting, sourced its own utilities and food, all generated and grown within the valley. We had our own law enforcement, our own hospital, our own government, and everything else required to sustain and protect life on an island.
Only we weren't on an island. We were in a deep mountain valley shaped like a bowl roughly two miles in diameter. Actually, most geologists would call the huge depression in the Rocky Mountains a sinkhole rather than a valley, but who wants to call their home a sinkhole? Certainly not Simon Moses, founder and incorporator of Eden, Utah. He envisioned a heaven on earth, a safe and peaceful environment, the polar opposite of the conflicted world we lived in.
But Eden was a sinkhole. My father, David, said the tall red cliffs that surrounded the valley made that much clear. And the only way in or out of the sinkhole was through a three-hundred-foot-long tunnel near the top of the western face.
My father once told me Eden looked like God had taken his walking stick and slammed it down into the middle of the mountains.
I was only seven at the time, and it was easy for me to picture a huge God standing over me with a stick, ready to hit me if I wandered off the proper path. That's what Simon Moses, whom we also called the Judge, preached. The last thing I wanted was to be squashed by that stick when God slammed it down.
"I don't like that image," I said. "And you don't really believe in God."
"Sure I do. Just not the way everyone else here does." My father believed God was more in our minds than he was a person in the sky with a big stick. "Either way, one day you'll be able to see the cliffs for yourself and you'll see just how beautiful they are," he said.
I couldn't see the cliffs the way my father did, because I'd been blind since I was a baby. Miranda said I probably had seen for the first five or six months, until the irregular formation of my red blood cells, a result of sickle cell anemia, caused all kinds of complications. Among them, very fair skin and damaged retinas.
My father was a psychotherapist, not a physician, but he'd made the healing of my blindness his life's sole ambition, and he knew more about how the brain and body work than most doctors. According to him, there was something more than sickle cell going on with me. Sickle cell was an inherited disease passed on by one or both parents who have the same trait. Neither my mother nor my father had this trait.
He sometimes wondered if my sickle cell anemia was linked to the complications and stress of my birth, which nearly killed me and did kill my mother, also named Rachelle. She'd given her life for mine, he once said. He'd never quite recovered from her death. Neither had I.
Still, I had learned to be practical about my situation in life, despite all the fears that haunted me. I had no mother, but I had a father who was sure I would see again if I followed his way. And I believed in a God who would ultimately save me if I was very careful and followed his way. I thought of my dad and God as two halves of a whole, both offering me hope.
In fact, I did have sight, just not the typical kind. Actually, I saw two different ways.
The first way was in my dreams. Not only did I dream in color, my dreams felt, smelled, and looked more real than anything in my waking blind life. Everything was still a little fuzzy and muted, but clear enough for me to experience it visually. For me, it was vivid seeing, because I had nothing else to compare it to.
Why I could see in color while dreaming was the subject of wild speculation. Maybe because I hadn't been blind for the first few months of my life, I knew what color looked like. But infants don't really see color well at that stage. And in my dreams I did.
The problem was, most of my dreams were nightmares of Shadow Man always saying the same thing, always blinding me, mocking me, condemning me. Those nightmares weren't just kinda real, but so real that I dreaded falling asleep. I called it my nightmare sight.
From a psychological perspective, nightmares don't create new fears as much as they reflect deep hidden fears. The mind has to process these in some abstract way so it won't melt down.
What kinds of fears? For starters, the fear that I would always be blind, always suffer the same nightmares that had haunted me for the past ten years. Every time I closed my eyes to sleep I begged God to take away my nightmare sight.
But I had other more common fears as well. In fact, all negative emotions are rooted in fear, most commonly fear of loss, my father said. The fear of losing worthiness created jealousy, fear of losing honor created anger, fear of losing security created anxiety, and so it went. In the end, fear was the only challenge facing all humans, he believed.
The second kind of sight I experienced had nothing to do with sleep. While awake, I saw through echolocation, the same kind of "sight" that bats and dolphins use. I wasn't the first human to "see" in this way, but my father said I was probably among the best. Daniel Kish, perhaps the best-known blind man in the world and a hero to me, had his eyes removed in 1967 at thirteen months old due to retinal cancer. He mastered echolocation well enough to ride his bicycle through any park.
A specialist had come to the valley to examine me on two different occasions, and he'd been so impressed with my ability that he begged my father to allow further testing. So many blind people could benefit if we allowed him to study my brain, he insisted. The thought terrified me. My father refused.
While awake and using echolocation, I didn't see color. Or any definition, like features on a face. I only saw shapes. I saw them by clicking my tongue and almost immediately hearing the sound waves that returned to me after reflecting off objects. My brain took those very faint echoes and measured the distance, size, and shape of those objects around me, then sent the information to my visual cortex, where an image was created.
How can the brain learn to see shapes based on sound waves? One word: neuroplasticity. Not so long ago, science commonly held that the brain's neurons were essentially fixed at birth through genetic imprinting, but evidence to the contrary showed how the mind can create any number of new neurons and rewire old ones based on environmental input.
The first study to examine a human utilizing echolocation was in 2014, when researchers used fMRI to take high-resolution images of the brain while subjects who'd learned to echolocate clicked and "saw." Surprisingly, the visual cortex at the back of the brain, not the auditory centers of the brain, lit up, showing pronounced neural activity. The subjects really were "seeing" with the visual cortex. Their brains had rewired themselves to use sound and ears rather than light and eyes to perceive shapes, dimensions, and distances.
Echolocation didn't make me so special. I was only being human. We've known for some time the human brain can be rewired and reprogrammed. This is what my mind had done, but only because I, encouraged by my father, had developed the intention to rewire it.
I was much happier seeing through my clicks while awake than seeing in nightmares while asleep. I comforted myself with the thought that at least those nightmares never crossed over into my waking life in Eden.
And then one day they did and changed my life forever.
The date was Friday, June 8, 2018. The time was just after ten in the morning — I knew that because I had the news on, as undoubtedly most Americans did. Terrorists had executed a second wave of targeted cyber attacks against the power grid and thrown much of the East Coast into darkness.
My father was at the hospital that morning. I was standing over the stove, cooking eggs, my favorite food bar none. Eggs and ketchup.
I had one ear on the sizzle of the frying eggs and one on the voices coming over the television in the living room. Subtle shifts in the sound of the frying told me how well cooked the eggs were.
Most of my brain's processing power was occupied with the television. How a person said something spoke as loudly as their words, and in the absence of visual cues, I had learned to read inflections better than most.
The first cyber attack had hit the Northeast on Wednesday, two days earlier. It cut off power to over twenty million homes and businesses, including all of Manhattan, proving that the vulnerability of the power grid was one of America's greatest weaknesses. Not only because power plants and substations all ran on code that could be hacked, but because without electricity, everything stops.
And I mean everything.
At the moment, the voice on the NBC broadcast belonged to Cynthia Bellmont, a young woman in her thirties. Blonde hair and too much makeup, my father had said.
Makeup — something I didn't bother with, thanks to my limitations. My skin was pale and made my face look like a "ghost in a hood" because of my dark hair, if you listened to Sally, who was also sixteen. Today that ghost was dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt. I knew black made my skin look paler, but I wore only black so I could grab any shirt and know what I was wearing. Besides, although makeup would give my face color, any attempt to apply it myself would surely turn me into a clown.
"Someone has to be held accountable," Cynthia was saying. "The Wall Street Journal, among dozens of other respected publications, warned of precisely this vulnerability numerous times over the past five years and no one listened."
"Look, you're a news agency. Did NBC listen?" That was Martin Seymore, grid expert. "Pointing fingers will come later. Restoring power should be our only focus, and that's looking more difficult by the hour."
Cynthia hesitated. "So how do we minimize the damage? Wall Street has been locked down for two days. There's a run on grocery stores and looting in some areas, based on reports we're receiving. Are there plans to send in the National Guard to restore order?"
"Send them from where? Governmental agencies like the National Guard are as dependent on power as Wall Street."
"This morning's attack affected another forty-five power stations and nearly five thousand of the fifty-five-thousand substations on the East Coast. They've struck twice in three days, which means they could do more. Power stations farther west are reluctant to reroute energy to the east, concerned they might be next. If the president were to send assets like the National Guard to the east, it would leave the west vulnerable."
"Things will get worse before they get better."
There was an edge to Seymore's voice that drew my stare. By stare, I mean turning my head so that both ears are equidistant from an object, thus allowing me to detect shapes and judge distances.
I clicked several times by habit, and the shapes of the room came into view. It was like turning on a small light for me. I could make out the objects in our small kitchen and living room, as familiar to me as the rest of the house, down to each edge and corner.
To my right: the electric stove with a range hood two feet over the burners. To the right of that: the refrigerator. Ahead of me a breakfast bar separated the tiny kitchen from the living room. There, two stuffed chairs and a couch were grouped around the television and a fireplace.
To my left, a hall led back to three bedrooms — one mine, another my father's, and the third a study that we shared.
My face was turned to the four-foot, flat-panel television as I imagined the looks on the faces of the worried talking heads. By the sound of Seymore's voice, the situation was worse than anyone was saying.
I forgot about my eggs as they continued to talk, now urging calm and suggesting steps that anyone in the west might take to prepare for the "unlikely" event the attacks cascaded to the Pacific coast.
How much worse could it get? The government always figured out a way to dig the country out of holes, right? Americans were inventive and resilient.
But I already knew how much worse it could get. Every person in Eden knew. "One day," Simon Moses often insisted, "the whole world will face catastrophic collapse. But we in Eden will prevail. We are and will always be a totally self-sufficient community protected by the walls God has given us for our safety."
I had always been more concerned about my personal fears than Eden's ability to survive nationwide catastrophes. My world of virtual darkness and nightmares kept me somewhat insulated from all the survival talk.
But what if it was actually happening?
Without electricity, cell phones and their networks go completely silent. Computers become hunks of plastic and metal. Commerce comes to a sudden stop. The first attack on Wednesday had already cost over a trillion dollars due to loss of trade, Cynthia Bellmont said.
But that was the least of it. Refrigeration ceases and food spoils in a matter of days. Gas stations shut down. All flights are grounded. Sewage pumps fail and wastewater backs up. Water is cut off. Big cities become death traps with no way in or out except by foot. Survival instincts kick in and humans begin to do whatever is necessary to protect their own lives.
Chaos breaks out.
Maybe Simon Moses was as right about the world ending as he was about following God's law. Honestly, the thought of a nationwide collapse had a calming effect on me. It would prove Shadow Man wrong, right? He said I would bring blindness to the world, but here the failure of the grid was doing it without my help. Not that I believed my nightmares. They were only symbolic, like the numbers, seven times seven. Fullness. Of course I didn't really believe my nightmares.
But a tiny part of me did, and that part gnawed at me whenever they crossed my mind, which was far too often.
I turned my attention back to the eggs, heard that I'd let them go a little too long, and quickly scooped them onto the plate I'd placed on the counter, right next to the stove.
Now the ketchup. I stepped to the fridge, pulled the door open, and scanned the contents with a few quick clicks. Sonic waves reflected back to my ears and traveled to my visual cortex, where they were converted to shapes and sizes that showed me what was there. I knew them well. For my sake my father always bought the exact same items.
Mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, leftovers in a large Tupperware — that would be the sauerkraut and sausages from last night — milk jug. No ketchup? We always had ...
Then I remembered. I'd taken the ketchup with some fries to my room last night. Must have left it on my desk. I closed the fridge and headed down the hall. Could have clicked, but I was so well spatially oriented in the house that I didn't need to. If I didn't feel like clicking, distances, angles, and slight variations in temperatures guided me in this familiar place.
I did click at the door, just to see that it was closed, before turning the knob and pushing it open. Three clicks and I saw the bottle of ketchup on my desk, right next to my computer.
The keys on my keyboard were raised with Braille, but I almost always used voice-recognition software that rendered the Braille mostly unnecessary.
I was reaching for the ketchup bottle when the talking heads on the living room television went silent midsentence. But it was more than the silence that stopped me. It was the tiny popping sound that a television makes when it's turned off.
We'd lost power? But no ... I could hear the hum of the refrigerator.
I turned toward the door. "Dad?"
Excerpted from "The 49th Mystic"
Copyright © 2018 Kiwone, Inc. f/s/o Ted Dekker.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wow! He's done it again! Ted has blown my mind and challenged me to open my eyes and see life through a new perspective! If you’ve not read a Ted Dekker novel before, prepare to be thrilled and amazed (and hopefully hooked). If you have read Ted, be prepared to dig deep and be amazed. Either way the 49th Mystic is an incredible story that will not disappoint. Ted has the incredible ability, the gift really, of taking a Biblical truth that is difficult to understand and even harder to apply and through his stories he paints a picture of what these truths look like lived out in everyday life. And now he paints us a picture of what it looks like to walk in our true identity, as the Father sees us. I am amazed. I am changed. I am renewed to continue walking. And I am more than excited for the continuation of this incredible journey in book two. In true Ted fashion, he has given each reader a choice. You can read this book as the incredible, in-depth story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, turning pages, so difficult to put down. Or you can choose to let it grab hold of your heart and lead to a deeper level of God’s truth that is Biblically sound. Whether you read it for the story that will blow your mind or accept the challenge to let God speak to you at the same time, you are in for the ride of your life. Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear, or not - the choice is ours.
Loved the book. Ted Dekkers writing is fun, filled with lots of twist and an awesome lesson to be applied to any Christian living in the fallen world in which we live. Thank you for another great chapter to the Circle!
As with everything else Ted Dekker writes, it is like having the scales on my eyes removed and the hardness of my heart bathed in love and grace. Highly recommended reading this book. It is one of the best of the best.
Don't just read this. Go read this book. It is more than just an amazing story.
Absolutely phenomenal! And yet, those words aren't even enough to capture the dimensionality of this book. It's something you have to experience for yourself. The 49th Mystic will take you on an incredible journey that will open your eyes to a new perception. It's mind-bending, adrenaline pumping, thought provoking, and potentially life-changing. Dekker has managed to fit it all into one novel and it's only part one! (Who's already eagerly anticipating part two? This gal!) If you've never read a Ted Dekker book before, now is the time to start! And if you're like me and lost count when you ran out of fingers and toes ;) you won't be disappointed! This is not an ordinary novel...then again, when has a Dekker book ever been 'ordinary'? (icymi - never.) The truth woven through the experiences of these characters gives you the opportunity to see with renewed vision - to see life through grace, truth, and love. There is something about stories that help us grasp the complexities of truth on a deeper level (there's a reason Jesus spoke in parables), and The 49th Mystic is no exception. This is not a book where you turn the last page, close it, and are finished. It sticks with you, challenges you, offers hope, excitement, and anticipation in the truths it presents. It's just that good!
As always Dekker writes a fictional book that presents the simple gospel of Jesus in a creative way that grabs your interest from the first paragraph. I have read every book he has written. I can hardly wait for the next one.
The 49th Mystic is the next step in the evolution of Ted Dekker's writing. Having traveled with him through all of his other novels, it's felt as if we have shared his journey of spiritual growth him, as evidenced by the spiritual evolution of his characters. If you're a fan of The Circle Series, this is the novel you have been waiting for. If you haven't read The Circle, this story will have no less of an impact. The 49th Mystic is a story of girl who takes the journey from darkness into the light, a journey we are all called to take. If you desires to get a fresh, but accurate picture of who Jesus is, read this book and be willing to allow the scales to fall from your eyes. I can't recommend it enough.
Wow! This book is amazing! It sucks you in and you feel like your in that world. I haven't had a book do that in a long time. It is eye opening on how different people perceive the world around them. The 49th Mystic shows how we all have to look deep into ourself and let that person shine through. It also shows that we need to love everyone around us, no matter our differences and to truly forgive those you wronged us. The world around us may not be what it seems and we need to learn from our past.
This is one of the best Ted Dekker books I've ever read! I enjoyed it so much! It is such a touching story written with a great message. I love the symbolism to Christianity, the struggles we face as Christians, the wonderful eternity we have to look forward to, and the incomparable gift that Jesus gave us! The way Ted Dekker weaves a tail is unique and captivating. I am really looking forward to reading the follow up to The 49th Mystic! It'll be hard to wait that long, but well worth it!
Enjoyed the read
Great book. I couldn’t put it down until I was finished.
I have enjoyed other books by this author but this one felt forced
Couldn’t put it down!
I knew I'd be hooked from the prologue! The 49th Mystic is yet another classic from the king of faith-based thrillers. It certainly helped me to remember how quickly I revert back to the world's way instead of God's way when things get a little out of my control. Continuing on with the Circle series.....Ted keeps you on a ride so enthralling that you don't want to put it down. All the characters we love or love to hate are back. I felt my soul being tugged a bit and emotions being stirred. This book makes you take a look in the mirror and ask yourself..." Is it true? Am I capable of being The 49th? Do I have what it takes?" Ready to go for a ride.....hang on? All Dekker fans will love this book and if you've never picked up a Ted Dekker book you will love this journey and want to read the entire series! Even if you're not into faith-based books, this one is still a journey you will enjoy. Thank you again Ted for the journey! Can't wait for Book Two!!!
Ted Dekker is the master of explaining Truth through story. I love that this time he has included Scripture, lots of it, at the end of the book to clearly connect it to the lessons learned by his protagonist, Rachelle, and hopefully his reader. For those reading this review and thinking, “Oh no, another thinly veiled sermon,” no fear! Just like Tolkien, Dekker is a beyond first rate storyteller. Fantasy and sci-fi fans will be enthralled. Blinded at a young age in the secluded and protected small town of Eden, Rachelle hopes to regain her sight through a controversial procedure. It seems ominous that the timing of the procedure coincides with the outbreak of chaos in the world outside the confines of Eden. Rachelle is also plagued by dreams in which a presence she labels as Shadowman threatens to continue to blind her each time she regains her sight. When he shows up at the hospital under the guise of Vlad Smith and places a smear of Rachelle's blood in one of the Books of History, her life, and the lives of all of Eden's residents, runs off the rails. Only through learning her true identity and finding the five seals as directed by someone in the other earth to which she travels each time she dreams will Rachelle be able to restore order. I am very grateful to NetGalley and Revell Books for providing me with a copy of The 49th Mystic in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. I highly recommend this book, along with The Circle Series.
Way to go Ted Dekker! Stunning is the word that comes to mind. Pulling together The Circle Series, incorporating the characters and themes into this new work of art, simply stunning. Biblical truths written in such a way as to get this reader thinking about God and grace in new, refreshing ways. Ways that touched my heart and made me cry, a good kind of tears. I’ve been a fan of Ted Dekker’s books for years and have shared that love with friends, who in turn have become fans. A deeply spiritual man, Dekker has shared his journey throughout the years via his novels. His quest for deeper understanding is unquenchable and he successfully shares that quest while lighting the fire in the hearts of his readers. Rachelle, it did not escape this readers notice that the author named the main character after is daughter, is a blind girl in the city of Eden; a city governed by a very strict interpretation of scripture. Strange things begin to happen when Rachelle sleeps for she finds herself in another world, a world very different than Eden. Rachelle moves between each world whenever she falls asleep; the reader easily moves with her. She is on a hunt. A hunt for five seals. Seals she must find or both worlds will be destroyed in utter darkness. In this first of the Beyond the Circle series, Rachelle obtains the first three seals, through many harrowing adventures. What are they? You will have to read the book to find out!
Ted Dekker's book The 49th Mystic takes the reader deep into a concept we think we know and turns it on its head. What do you know of love? What do you know of God? Ted truly makes the reader ask the question, "do I really know these things?" The 49th Mystic is a book that goes beyond traditional representations of God and his love for us. We have a surface understanding of what "unconditional" means, but what does it truly look like? Often, as Christians, we put God into a box, and The 49th Mystic blows that box to smithereens. Put aside your preconceived notions of who God is. "Dive Deep" and remember who you are! Ted Dekker's book The 49th Mystic will take you on a wild journey of discovery, not only for the main character, but for yourself as well.
The 49th Mystic is a beautiful, compelling and thrilling ride whether you're new to Ted Dekker or an avid fan, drawing you in from the opening pages. Unlike a typical escape into a novel, this one challenged me personally: my tendency toward judgmentalism, redefining the way I love others, and dealing with issues of fear that I've had for decades since early childhood. No novel has reached me on such a deeply personal level as this one and its effect continues to last. The 49th Mystic is a treasure worth discovering.
"The 49th Mystic" is a great read. It both draws one in to where time passes reading one storyline and at same time has deeper messages to slow down and ponder. The groundwork was particularly well laid out to show there is more than meets the eye, so to speak, something I think of as Who Would Jesus See. We are conditioned to make judgements about people based on appearances and so often they miss the mark. I had mixed emotions at other times because I struggled along with Rachelle yet thought I had already learned the lessons. It provided an opportunity for reflection, something I have come to expect from a Ted Dekker novel. If there is one thing I could change, it is the epithet used by antagonist for humans sent me on a different train of thought every time I saw it.
Ted Dekker had me sobbing as early as chapter three in The 49th Mystic. I've never cried as hard due to the impact of a man's words on my heart while reading a fiction novel. And all it took was two sentences: "Remember who you are. Return to the truth of your origin and recognize yourself." I really enjoyed reading Dekker's The 49th Mystic. He remains true to his writing voice in this novel. He takes the reader on an adventure, and along the way, I learned more about myself and about who I am created to be and what I'm created to do as I saw life through the eyes of a blind girl and the people she meets along her own journey of discovery. When a novel can draw me in that quickly, of course I'm going to share it with everyone I can. I hope you'll discover the same joy I did in reading it.
What a journey! Ted Dekker has done it again. The 49th Mystic pulls you into a whole different world. One filled with mystery, danger, love, beauty and discovery. Once I started The 49th Mystic I couldn't put it down. As many of Ted Dekker's books, you feel that you are right there with the characters. As you read you experience everything from great loss to amazing victories and truths discovered.