Under Authority: Book Review

Under Authority


Author: Kimalee Finelli

Genre: Women’s Christian Fiction

 Based on a true story, Under Authority is Kate Elliot’s unusual account of what occurred at Cross Independent Baptist Church in New England during her childhood and teen years. The pastor, Rhuttland Abbott—or the Reverend, as people referred to him—believed God had placed him behind the pulpit. To question him was to question God, resulting in swift church discipline. Those unwilling to comply with his self-imposed rules and regulations would face severe, cruel, and unreasonable penalties.

Kate finally escapes this vindictive environment and builds a new life in a new city. But after twenty years of running, she finds herself back in her hometown facing the ghosts of her past and the ongoing pain from harsh sermons, shocking incidents, and the fate of those who did not obey the Reverend—including several deaths.

Will Kate continue to run or will she find a way to overcome her fear and the far-reaching fingers of the Reverend’s authority?

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My Review–5 Star

How does one maintain faith when works and obligations are pounded into you? This is Katie DeConner’s dilemma.

I belonged to a church which I always described as a whisker away from a cult. How wrong I was. Reading about Cross Independent Baptist Church in Under Authority made me realize how lacking in grace some places can be.

Now, my introduction to this review may sound like a downer–this book was anything but one.

Kimmalee Finellie introduces us to Katie DeConner. She has a wonderful family who came to faith while she was young. As new Christians, they never realized how harsh and dictatorial their pastor had become. Still their family and others from their church labored under Reverend Rhuttland Abbott.

The story swept me up. I read this while I hosted a booth at a craft fair. I almost didn’t want a buyer to come by because I wanted to read. Finelli made me love Katie and her friends and family. I stressed with them as rules became stricter. They clung to their church which they were told, and believed, was the only one in their town that taught the truth.

Her conflict and faith and family and pain kept me reading.

In this work, I discovered grace. I learned my old church wasn’t so bad and I needed to change my own heart.

The only failing I found in this novel was the transitions from past to present. I’d think I’d be reading about Katie, the child, only to discover after a few lines I was following Kate the adult. As I said, I read this while distracted, so the issue I had with transitions could’ve been me and my craft show duties.

I highly recommend this book.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publishers. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-Fantastic book; 4-I really enjoyed it; 3-I finished it but wouldn’t read again; 2-I didn’t like it or I didn’t finish; 1-I hate it.)

Get to know the author: Kimalee Finelli

Residing in sunny South Carolina, Kimalee Finelli has studied with the Long Ridge Writer’s Group, has written articles, short stories, and Under Authority is her first novel. While away from her computer, Kimalee is a devoted wife, mother, and preschool assistant. She also enjoys hiking near waterfalls, pets, coffee, books, movies, and quaint towns.


  1. Cleo Lampos says:

    This is a topic that is not easily broached or written about. However, it is real.

    • Carol says:

      Cleo, No this isn’t a topic easily broached. I’ve experienced this to a much lesser degree. It makes you lose your trust in church–and in God.

  2. Excellent review, Carol. Congrats to Kimalee!

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