Praise/Reviews

The Midwestern Book Review for The Worship of Walker Judson
Janice Strubbe Wittenberg

Spiral Publishing
P. O. Box 340, St. Paul, VA 24283
http://spiralpublishing.net
9780989562300, $16.95, PB, 432pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Walker Judson has a grand secret. He sees light that emanates from, and surrounds other folks. Soul shadows, the boy terms them. Years later, as director of The Living Light Healing Center, he meets the hunchback, Lauren Finch, and straightens her spine. Seduced by his charisma, she then becomes his devout assistant, ultimately transforming into a powerful healer in her own right. When all goes awry, even as Lauren’s faith is challenged, even as others abandon Walker, she remains steadfast. But how far is she willing to go to prove her devotion, and what will it take for her to peel off the blinders and trust her own strengths? And so, is Walker Judson truly a healer-gone-bad or a saintly soul whose paranormal talents are misunderstood?

Critique: “The Worship of Walker Judson” is an original, compelling, deftly crafted read from beginning to end and clearly establishes author Janice Strubbe Wittenberg as an impressively gifted novelist of the first order. While very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that “The Worship of Walker Judson” is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).

Reader Reviews

An Intriguing story that will keep you turning the pages:

By Romuald Dzemo on June 8, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

The Worship of Walker Judson by Janice Strubbe Wittenberg is a phenomenal book that reflects what happens in real life, a book that will appeal to a very wide audience. Walker Judson is a gifted healer, a personality with psychic powers, running The Living Light Healing Center. When Walker heals Lauren Finch, she develops a cult for him and an unwavering faith in his skills. Contact with this powerful healer helps her to journey into the core of herself and discovers her own gifts. However, like all gifts, Walters is a curse and soon people will start noticing that something is wrong and that Walker might not be the man he claims to be. But will Lauren have the courage to face reality, to walk past her devotion for this man who changed her life?

I was drawn in immediately from the opening lines of the book, because of the way Walker is presented, self-absorbed, a man with a changed name, a new identity! And I started asking the question: What must he be running away from? Wittenberg surprised me with the beauty of her language, lyrical and highly descriptive. If you will not fall for her characters, then you wont resist her plot, and if you aren’t going to love the plot, then her voice will seduce you. This is what anyone needs to read for entertainment, but the issues this book raises will open the eyes of many readers.

Sucks you in:

By Barbara E Selfridge May 28, 2016

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

Is there anything straight-forward about living odd? The odd of psychic healer / criminal who doesn’t comprehend either his life or his gift. Janice Strubbe Wittenberg has crafted a novel from alternately-grammared sentences that let you enter into that oddness full-blown. It’s not violent — so far no fast and furious car chases, for example — but there’s nothing steadfast either. No benign Mister Narrator to offer a guiding hand. Off-kilter and sort of mesmerizing.

This narrator feels like a close relative to Walker Judson:

By James Websteron May 24, 2016

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

In The Worship of Walker Judson, Strubbe Wittenberg has created an unforgettable character, a faith healer battling his own inner demons, a victim of childhood abuse who finds he has an inexplicable power that leads him to help others even as he twists the minds of his own cult followers. While reading this story, I found myself, by turns, fascinated, repulsed, and ultimately saddened by this character.

Much of this novel’s impact comes from the voice. The close-third narrator gets inside Judson’s mind, but has the luxury of applying ironic commentary when needed. This narrator feels like a close relative to Walker, someone who knows him well, and comes from his scrabble-poor background. With this voice, the story has the ability to provoke laughter, horror, tears, and curiosity. On my […] I compare Walker Judson to Robin Williams, the now-deceased master comic.

Epic!

By Amazon Customer May 5, 2016

Format: Paperback

First off, this novel is not even slightly the type of book that I usually read. I bought it at the recommendation of a friend who strongly suggested that I check it out; in part due to the subject matter regarding the abuse of power which is a long-standing interest of mine

Let me say, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the nuanced manner in which the writer, Strubbe Wittenberg, handled the topic. Rather than a wrote handling of the issue that might have included the simplistic choice to blame the abuser and coddle the victim, the story opts for an account that’s incredibly complex and forces the reader to think deeply.

Additionally, I was amused by the odd mix of characters and the plot’s unexpected twists and turns. A fun, complicated, enriching story that any reader is definitely going to love!

A Five Star Read!

By Veronica May 3, 2016

Format: Paperback

First of all, I must remark on the Author, Janice Wittenberg. Her knowledge of this book had me blown away, and Its quite obvious that she did her research when writing this one. It is spot on, engaging, and makes you want to keep turning the pages for more. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I jumped into this one, but what I ended up with just blew me away.

This is a book about how strong the human mind can be, and what Its truly capable of. No one wants to feel pain, and were always in search of something that will make our lives a bit easier. Does that include a special someone? This book takes you on a journey through all of those topics. We follow main characters Walker and Lauren in their search to heal one another.

Thoroughly enjoyed how well written this book was, and look forward to reading more by this author in the future. Definitely would give it five stars.

Simply Amazing!

By Mimi Jazman April 30, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition

I seriously had no expectation about this book when the first time I got my hand on it. I had no idea what this book will turn into but I still give it a try nonetheless. The plot was amazing. The beginning was heartbreaking, the uprising was expected but the climax was still surprising even when you know what Lauren will do and the ending was a nice wrap up for the story. As for me, the plot was one of the important elements in the book and the author presented it astoundingly with strong sentence structure that reminded me of historical book. Somehow, it felt like the book setting was in 1930s and I liked historical books so that was absolutely not a problem for me. I personally don’t prefer a book that was slow pace but with this one, I could cope with it. I think it just blended seamlessly with the incidents with the patients that happened and all. I liked how the author wrote the book since Walker was a boy, about his religious mom and how his father reacted about it. It just made perfect sense on who he became when he grew up. The other element that I loved about this book was how the author wrote about a lot of characters that have different upbringings and they still need spiritual help. Lauren and Walker characters on the other hand just proved how strong our mind can be, how forgiveness and acceptance could change a lot of things. It was a calming reading that will leave you feeling full with positive energy.

Very Entertaining!

By Eliza April 28, 2016

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

When I first began reading “The Worship of Walker Judson,” I thought I might be heading into a rather serious, journalistic or documentary-style account of the unmasking of a fake guru. What I found, to my sincere delight, was a thoroughly entertaining story by a writer who delves deeply into her two main characters’ perceptions, beliefs, and spiritual journeys. This book became my daily read, partly because I thought I knew where the action was headed, but mostly because it’s a fun, wild ride. I liken the story to those of Kurt Vonnegut and Franz Kafka; kind of surrealistic, but never fantasy, with all kinds of intriguing characters and plot twists. The brief chapters are perfect for today’s readers – or at least, that’s what one might think, with our limited time and attention. Ironically, it allowed me to say to myself, “just one more chapter” and stay up reading much later than I intended. This, by the way, suggests to me its adaptability for a television series. I hope you find it as engaging as I did!

A Divine Read!

This story sizzles with brutal realities of suffering, characters that bleed and emote human blood and emotions and the ever-present hope for release and redemption from pain (of body and mind). Long in words and chapters (over 420 and 97 respectively), one becomes oblivious to its length and gets swept up in the lives and scenes herein.

Walker Judson’s life as a boy is portrayed as an unloved, abused outcast and is similar in language and character to that of Rick Bragg’s superb memoir All over but the Shouting. Similarly, Ms. Wittenberg keeps the pain of Walker’s early life in tow, but develops his character into a nuanced and complicated young man who later arrives in Buena Vista and begins to use his gift to heal others in body and soul.

Walker is inundated with both those in need and those who see him as a saint and wish to learn how to heal as he does. One such woman, whom he renames Lauren Son, becomes intricately involved with his new center (both physically, emotionally and personally with Walker). Are she and others being used by Walker for his own needs or are they part of a larger plan, that only Walker, his mother and a few others can see?

Religious and spiritual principals, ideas and explanations abound and are at readers’ fingertips throughout this story, but are not presented as “the truth”, only as aspects of what the characters believe and/or are thinking.

The Worship of Walker Judson is a fine example of an author’s first work of fiction not only being adequate, but surpassing many other well-known and widely published writers. This is a divine read, whether or not one believes in anything divine at all.

Gabriel Constans, author of Buddha’s Wife.

Our need for magic, meaning and love can result in idolization and exploitation.

Wow! What an amazing piece of work by a truly gifted writer. Strubbe Wittenberg walks us through the innards of a multidimensional story, revealing how human need for magic, meaning and love can result in idolization and exploitation.

The Worship of Walker Judson is an awakening of insights into the mind, mystery and mechanics of a great healer. The writing style, both eloquent and fast paced unfolds an intriguing path through a cinematic lens of town folks’ perspectives as they interact and react to the gifts and grandiosity of a healer with inexplicable powers. Guiding us through their intertwining lives, the writer unveils the secrets of healing and the numerous ego traps both healers and their clients can fall prey to.

The novel caught me. The main characters, Lauren and Walker, grew on me. As an Energy Healer myself, I related to the universal themes a healer must face. The author tapped into the depth and complexity of her characters with a unique artistic writing style. She presented her subjects with unusual style, revealing complex blind spots, gifts, and humanness. This read is a fast paced, intriguing trip and time well spent.

Laura Fine, Director: Lionheart Institute of Transpersonal Energy Healing

Compelling Modern Novel that Reads like a Classic.

This is Great Expectations meets Angelology, Balzac’s Seraphita meets a tale as vast as Moby Dick.

With it’s own unique language, Strubbe Wittenberg has created a compelling modern novel that reads like a classic.

I really was struck by the author’s unique use of language. It took getting used to (few if any prepositions) but then I found that moved the story along. I remember a few years ago Janice said she had finally figured out/found the voice she needed to carry the story. This makes for a very immediate vision and the tale more urgent.

J.W. James, author.

DaliLama

Things that Make You “Hum”

Let me start by saying I had very little knowledge about what this book was about or the depth with which the powerful words and emotions would take me.

This is truly a story about how strong the human mind can be. We all want to believe in something that will make life easier, less painful, physically and emotionally….. is there that special someone that can help us do that? “The Worship of Walker Judson” takes us on an emotional roller-coaster, one written with words that will carry you through the lives of many people.

The main characters are Walker and Lauren. Both of these characters are strong willed and only want to help themselves and carry the healing on to others……or do they?

With twists and turns, this book will keep you flipping pages to find out just how submissive, persuasive and fickle people can be. The author truly has an incredible way with words and imaging……kudos to Janice Strubbe Wittenberg!

Gene R. Baker, San Diego, CA

Fascinating Study of the Mind of a Mental Healer

Janice Strubbe Wittenberg’s book, The Worship of Walker Judson, is a study of the psychology of mental healing, by an author with an intimate knowledge of her topic. When this subject is encountered in the news of the day, either in a prior historical era or our own, there is a spectrum of criticism and commentary extending all the way from sincere mysticism to out-and-out fraud. Wittenberg explores the entire gamut of responses that we have had to this subject, the result being a great discussion-starter on this fascinating topic.

The character of Walker Judson is full of ambiguities and uncertain origins, some of this conveyed by Wittenberg in an almost “magical realism” style. An important aspect of this characterization is that, even with his own thoughts and private experiences described in great detail, there remains an even more basic aspect of “self” that we can only guess at. The dynamic between descriptions on the page, and those that arise in the reader’s mind, keeps one constantly on edge.

However, the really important questions raised in this book are about the dependence that a subject can develop for a healer. In the case of a doctor or a chiropractor, it is easy to see the healer as a well-trained technician, competently wielding the visible tools of the trade. In the case of a healer whose tools are completely invisible to the patient, something further can develop in the mind of the subject. And that is the mystery presented by this book!

Morgan C Taylor

Magical Realism in an American Original

The power of The Worship of Walker Judson crept up on me. I was reading along, realizing that something different was being asked of me as a reader. Ms. Wittenberg uses language in a way that creates entry into a different world. Once I found my way through the doorway into her story, I was fascinated by its complexity and disturbed, in a good way, by what her characters explore.

Healing, and our response to it, is very rarely talked about in fiction (that I know of) and to live in the world of those who find it their normal was a journey worth taking. And the novel also allowed me to revisit some of my own experiences with those in powerful positions and their relationship with me, as a follower. With so much happening in spiritual communities now (and probably always) where a leader is not able to hold his integrity,

The Worship of Walker Judson is a great addition to the conversation about what is power, how do we inhabit it, and how do we respond when it is misused.

I am delighted to have found this novel, and hope it becomes a “must read” for anyone interested in healing, spiritual community, the dynamics of power and love, and the written word. An excellent read.

Deborah Allen, therapist, healer, screen writer

Journey of a healer…or is he?

Charismatic and gifted healer Walker Judson attracts the devotion of his patients and his staff and the hostility of the local residents as his healing center gains fame and fortune. Childhood flashbacks are interspersed with his present life as head of The Living Light. Strubbe Wittenberg reveals to the reader how Judson’s adult behavior is influenced by his past, while managing to keep those same secrets from those characters closest to him. Descriptive and compelling, the journey of Walker Johnson will leave the reader wondering just how the gift of healing passes from one to another.

Chris Sorensen 

unnamed

You’re in for a Wonderful Read!

From the thought provoking cover to the last paragraph, you’re in for a wonderful read. The author uses descriptive language which evokes strong sensory images. The dialogue is crisp, clean, real. The story line, not always easy or pleasant, is compelling and thought provoking long after the last sentence is read. Immerse yourself in this world and these characters; you’ll expand your perceptions of love, pain, idols, and worship.

Cynthia Mitchell

A Five Star Read!

First of all, I must remark on the Author, Janice Wittenburg. Her knowledge of this book had me blown away, and Its quite obvious that she did her research when writing this one. It is spot on, engaging, and makes you want to keep turning the pages for more. I wasnt sure what to expect when I jumped into this one, but what I ended up with just blew me away.

This is a book about how strong the human mind can be, and what Its truly capable of. No one wants to feel pain, and were always in search of something that will make our lives a bit easier. Does that include a special someone? This book takes you on a journey through all of those topics. We follow main characters Walker and Lauren in their search to heal one another.

Thoroughly enjoyed how well written this book was, and look forward to reading more by this author in the future. Definitely would give it five stars.

Veronica

Very Entertaining!

When I first began reading “The Worship of Walker Judson,” I thought I might be heading into a rather serious, journalistic or documentary-style account of the unmasking of a fake guru. What I found, to my sincere delight, was a thoroughly entertaining story by a writer who delves deeply into her two main characters’ perceptions, beliefs, and spiritual journeys. This book became my daily read, partly because I thought I knew where the action was headed, but mostly because it’s a fun, wild ride. I liken the story to those of Kurt Vonnegut and Franz Kafka; kind of surrealistic, but never fantasy, with all kinds of intriguing characters and plot twists. The brief chapters are perfect for today’s readers – or at least, that’s what one might think, with our limited time and attention. Ironically, it allowed me to say to myself, “just one more chapter” and stay up reading much later than I intended. This, by the way, suggests to me its adaptability for a television series. I hope you find it as engaging as I did!

Eliza

An Unusual, Difficult and Timely Subject

The book tackles the unusual, difficult and timely subject matter; that of a preacher/healer “gone bad” with the sometimes conscious and unconscious complicity of a guru’s followers. Though not always entirely successful, the voice and tone of the sections of the book when Walker is a boy and his relationship with mother, is quite unusual, an attempt to experience the minds of two peculiar people and their convoluted relationship.

Nicholas Williams

Epic!

First off, this novel is not even slightly the type of book that I usually read. I bought it at the recommendation of a friend who strongly suggested that I check it out; in part due to the subject matter regarding the abuse of power which is a long-standing interest of mine

Let me say, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the nuanced manner in which the writer, Strubbe Wittenberg, handled the topic. Rather than a wrote handling of the issue that might have included the simplistic choice to blame the abuser and coddle the victim, the story opts for an account that’s incredibly complex and forces the reader to think deeply.

Additionally, I was amused by the odd mix of characters and the plot’s unexpected twists and turns. A fun, complicated, enriching story that any reader is definitely going to love!

Amazon Customer

Check Out Our Holiday Kindle Countdown Deal

My Husband is Under Here Somewhere
Buy at Amazon.com

Kindle Countdown Bargain!

The Worship of Walker Judson
Buy it at Amazon.com

Subscribe!

Subscribe to my blog for updates