Get 50% off Catholic Books & eBooks

Discover the Next Tolkien & O'Connor

Join Here for FREE to Never Miss a Deal

Find new favorites & Support Catholic Authors


Science Fiction, Thriller


13 & Up

Author’s Worldview


Year Published



Vocation, Duty, Fear, Sacraments, Survival, Dinosaurs


Reviewed by

Tiffany Buck

This book is a part of Catholic Teen Books.

Click to find out more.

Bishop Dennis has called a meeting. Rural priest, Father Gerry, is on sabbatical and needs a replacement before Christmas. When Bishop Dennis asks for a volunteer, all eyes turn to the young priest with raptor claws hanging from his rearview mirror, Father Benedict.

Corinna Turner has given fans a delightful Christmas treat to sink their teeth into. Father Ben is the well-loved rural priest in the UnSparked series who seems right at home with the farmers and hunters. That hasn’t always been the case. He was once a city priest with a parish, stressing over a Christmas Bazaar. In this short story, we are given the history of Father Ben as a young priest. 

Father Benedict’s rally driving experience as well as his pastoral outreach among the hunters at the Vi-park makes him the ideal candidate to replace Father Gerry. The only problem is Father Benedict isn’t so sure. His only contact with a raptor gave him an adrenaline rush that left him wobbly. Rural priests don’t have the safest job. They live out of a van, risking life and limb driving outside the electric fences protecting civilization (unSPARKed) seeing to the spiritual needs of the hunters and farmers. How can he handle the challenges and dangers of raptor or T-rex attacks on a daily bases? 

Someone has to do it.” This phrase keeps popping up in Father Benedict’s head. It is a call to duty as well as an invitation to trust in God. Trust sounds so easy, but it can be incredibly hard when we are outside of our comfort zone. Father Benedict loves his parishioners and his nice sports car that he will have to give up.

Clearly, God is not calling him to a safe vocation. Father Benedict understands this and reluctantly accepts his new assignment as a rural priest. Just before Christmas, he heads out of the city in his black SOS van, complete with a small St. Desmond statue on the dashboard. Asking for the intercession of St. Desmond the hermit who lived in the country and managed to escape raptor attack makes Father Benedict feel like an official rural priest. I won’t spoil it for the reader, but needless to say, Father Benedict does NOT have a smooth trip. Despite all the bad luck on his first day, he learns that he is exactly where God wants him to be.

A Truly Clawful Christmas is another great addition to the UnSparked series. Father Ben’s story is told from his point of view. Most parishioners only encounter priests at Mass or in the confessional. Rarely do we consider their troubles and fears. In this brilliantly written short story, readers encounter a relatable young priest who has to deal with the incredible task given to him. Adults and teens may consider saying an extra prayer for their pastor after reading this one. As a fan, I am hoping there will be a Saint Desmond back story in the future. Honestly, I am hooked on this series and would recommend it to anyone, but in this particular short story, non-Catholics might feel a little left out.

Get Catholic Books & eBooks for as little as $1 to FREE

The Wish Thief by C.D. Verhoff

Glory steals an unusual gem to save her family but winds up threatening an entire world.

Somewhither by John C. Wright An Unwhithering Realm

What if the Multi-verse were not a theory to disprove God? What if he created it, and all humanity must unite to fight the powers of Babel?

Standing Strong by Theresa Linden

Keefe hides his call to the priesthood and no matter how much Jarrett tries he still gets into trouble. Can the brothers find their courage?

War Demons by Russell Newquist

Lots of soldiers have demons, but Michael’s follow him back home. And now a secret order of demon-slayers tell him he has to save the world?!

Defend the Tabernacle by Deacon Patrick Augustin Jones

Catherine and Bernard get whisked away to do battle on the Soulscape, where the true nature of things is revealed.

Climb the Tree by Michael Bertrand

Investigations into a haunted suburban community mixes the fun of Stranger Things with the other-worldly sense of Tales from the Loop and the madness of House of Leaves.

Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden

What if you woke up one day and didn’t recognize the person you were sleeping next to?

There Once Was a Penny by Mark Restaino, Illustrations by J.P. Alcomendas

This nursery rhyme teaches kids the value of faith and how it can help a person to love themselves according to standards not of this world.

The Fisherman’s Tomb; The Story of the Vatican’s Secret Search by John O’Neill

The untold true story of the greatest treasure hunt of the century, all done under the noses of the Nazi invasion.

Saint Michael: Above the 38th Parallel by Shanti Guy

The true story of St. Michael, the original punch-communism-in-the-face superhero

Announcing Our New Historical Fiction & Fantasy Editor

Get to know the new editors joining the search for Catholic literature’s best

Sunrise on the Icewolf by Colleen Drippe

Helen grew up on a world ruled by women where showing interest in your father is taboo, but she will journey across planets to save him.

Live and Let Bite Review by Declan Finn

The battle with the demons of San Francisco left Marco broken and now Amanda isn’t answering his messages.

Gifts Visible and Invisible

If you are looking for a cozy read to get into the Christmas cheer, this collection has it all.

Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson

Does Pope Francis think the world is about to end?

Jonah’s Voyage to Atlantis by Voyage Comics

What if Jonah had traveled through the underworld while trapped inside the whale?

Arrow in Flight by Jane Lebak

If you want a gorgeous read delving into the world of angels that reflects actual accepted beliefs about them then this is the book for you.

A Life Such As Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

A chance encounter with an amnesiac soldier leads Brigid to discover the realities of the Civil War.

Molly McBride and the Party Invitation by Jean Schoonover-Egolf 

This children’s book teaches compassion for bullies and the courage to act rightly regardless of others.

A Very Jurassic Christmas by Corinna Turner

Christmas with Jurassic dinosaurs is often wild!