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June 19th, 2017

Rooks at Dusk: What happens when faith fails?

How do you find grace when you have done something you can never put right?

Can what is broken be mended?

The gripping story of an experienced leader who betrays everything he knows – but is there still hope?

Our culture may consider itself to be largely secular with religious belief sometimes being dismissed as a minority interest. However, the BBC One recent primetime drama Broken is one more piece of evidence that in everyday experience and in our popular culture the age-old questions of forgiveness and redemption are as pressing as they have ever been.

Rooks at Dusk faces these issues headon through the story of its protagonist, Ray Young. This page-turner debut novel, authored by popular speaker and communicator, Chick Yuill, addresses the question of where people go when all seems lost. It presents a sensitive exploration of grace, forgiveness and renewal in a world where not everything can be mended but where there is still reason for hope.

‘I get frustrated by the glibness of some of my evangelical brothers and sisters,’ says Chick. ‘Sometimes I think those of us who are Christians are tempted to make light and easy statements like “Come to Jesus and everything will be put right.”  But some things can never be put right.  So I wanted to explore the question,  ‘How do you find grace when you’ve done something you can never put right and when you don’t even believe any longer? I wanted to show that faith is fragile, that doubts – BIG doubts – are common.  I also wanted to rescue grace from being a theological concept to being the thing that holds the world in place and makes life possible.’

Rooks at Dusk avoids trite and easy answers.  Its central characters – and hopefully its readers – come to a place where there is reason for hope and a future in which life and love are possible. The story is set in Manchester and Edinburgh, and the protagonist also travels to Bournemouth and Northern Ireland.

Chick’s love of good fiction, his passion to tell a captivating story and his growing desire to deal with the big issues of life in a way that would be accessible both to people of faith and to non-believers has brought him to the place where he has fulfilled  a long-held ambition to write his first novel.

In Rooks at Dusk, Ray Young, an experienced Christian leader, has been married for almost thirty years. As the narrative begins, Ray’s faith, like his marriage, is withering and becoming steadily less vibrant and relevant. In the middle of this growing crisis of faith, he has an affair with a BBC producer with whom he has been working.  When his son, Ollie, a struggling stand-up comedian, discovers this, relations between father and son reach breaking point.  Ollie, whose relationship with Ray has been strained since Ollie rejected his parents’ faith as a teenager, insists that Ray confesses what’s been happening to Jean, his wife. Before Ray is able to do this and rescue the life that is crumbling around him, Jean is killed in a motorway accident. It seems all hope of redemption is gone, and his sense of guilt and hopelessness takes him to some dark places. This is the crux of the story.

As it unfolds, Ray and Ollie encounter and interact with a cast of characters whose lives and stories begin to suggest that there might be one big story that brings meaning where there is tragedy, joy where there is sadness, and reconciliation where there is conflict.

Chick writes, ‘I want to “steal past watchful dragons” (CS Lewis’s phrase) and disarm the reader who would not normally read anything by a Christian writer. I want readers to reflect on the central premise of the story – people sometimes behave badly, faith is fragile, tragedies happen – but hope and grace remain.’

What reviewers say:
‘Beautifully crafted, with a warmth, naturalness and simplicity, very moving and lightly amusing as well. I can’t wait for the next one!’  Sue Crooks

‘An excellent read which will have your jaw on the floor, a tear in your eye and (once you’ve finished it) hope in your heart. I literally couldn’t put it down.’ Craig Henderson

 ‘A powerful work of fiction showing the possibility of unlikely hope breaking into the most hopeless situations. A moving story of family, betrayal, love and kindness.  What happens when faith begins to fail?’ Nick Matthews

‘A compelling story that had me gripped from the prologue! Chick’s understanding of the human condition and the ‘divided self’ is fascinating – the twists and turns, the shocks and surprises certainly hold the interest. I loved the characterisation and the detailed research both of place and culture light up the pages. This is an excellent debut novel and worthy of a sequel.’  Dean Logan

‘A truly inspiring read, which fired off a number of emotions. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a novel, and not based on true events. I have a list of people who need to read this book, and I will be encouraging them to do so.’  Rowan Cafful

‘Loved this book. It was one of those easy to read before going to sleep books. The only problem was that as I got to the end of each chapter I needed to find out what happened next so I was going to sleep much later than I intended to!’  Hilary Naylor

About the author: The son of a coal-miner, Chick Yuill grew up in a working class Scottish community. He is a speaker and writer with a growing passion to bring matters of faith out of the narrow confines of a religious ghetto into the wider arena of public life and discourse.

He has been a church leader both in the UK and in California.  He recently completed his tenth marathon as a celebration of his seventieth birthday. Besides running, his interests are making good coffee, enjoying stimulating conversation and cheering loudly for Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Chick’s pleasure in writing Rooks at Dusk and the initial enthusiastic reception the book is receiving have encouraged him to start work on a second novel which he hopes to complete before the end of this year.

Rooks at Dusk (978-1-909728-65-3) by Chick Yuill is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 21st July from Christian bookshops, bookstores and on-line retailers. 272pp, £8.99.

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