Review: Taming of a Villain




Digital Editor’s Note: I’m excited and proud to welcome Rob Allwright as our Guest Writer here at the Sorted Magazine website. Rob brings a wealth of experience and is one of the most respected Christian reviewers in the UK. The energy Rob devotes to supporting and encouraging Christian creatives is staggering. His review show One Man In The Middle is broadcast by Branch FM, Heartsong Live and Hope FM. And I’m just a teensy bit excited that he will soon be joining the wonderful peeps at the Manchester based broadcaster Konnect Radio!

Rob writes: As a young Christian, I loved to read inspirational stories and autobiographies like Run Baby Run and The Cross and the Switchblade and many others. Having matured, I now realise how encouraging it was to have strong Christian parents and a Church that taught me the Bible. Taming of a Villain by Allen Langham is a story of the remarkable change that happens when someone searches and finds the truth of Jesus through their brokenness.

The story of Allen Langham is one of trouble from an early age. His Father and Mother were not married and his Dad left when he was just 18 months old. Life was tough and Allen was regularly disciplined to ‘toughen him up’ with a stick and then at just fourteen years old his Mum died of a cerebral haemorrhage. This is something that haunted Allen through much of his adult life. From this point on Allen struggled with anger and rage which he would use sometimes to stand up for women and sometimes to pick on those weaker than himself.

Some things were going well for him and his natural sports talent were starting to show, initially in football but then this developed into a love and skill in Rugby League. This turned into a small job before he signed a contract with the Sheffield Eagles for £3000. While life seemed to be taking an upwards turn Allen found his comfort clubbing, fighting, selling and taking recreational drugs. It wasn’t long before his gangster life caught up with his professional life and at the age of 18, he was sent to prison for the first time for a few months for Actual Bodily Harm after attacking four police officers on a night out. This was the end of his time with the Eagles and the beginning of his descent into Heroin addiction and 15 years in and out of prison for escalating charges to do with violence.

As with many of these stories, there is quite a bit of time spent describing what life was like. Some of these books can be guilty of making that past, and that life attractive and glamorous, that is not the case for this story. It is a very slippery slope that Allen gets onto and his life swirls out of control. At no point in reading this did I wish that I was living this lifestyle of drugs and violence, it seems to be told and shown that there was a lot of despair in his life. At times Allen does throw something about his life now into the mix that is relevant. He also signposts some of those things that were clear pointers towards what God was going to do with his life, long before it happened. Most times that Allen went to prison he finds himself gravitating towards the chaplaincy and reading and learning about different religious traditions, clearly, he was seeking for something to help him change.

It is no secret that in a book like this there is an experience with God of some kind when someone reaches out with the message of hope. I don’t want to ruin this story by giving too much away. What I do like about this story is that Allen’s life didn’t suddenly become perfect straight away. For Allen, there was a sudden change, a change in the desires that he found within himself, but it didn’t change the situation that he had left himself in overnight. Suddenly though Allen was open to the love of Jesus, he lessened his need for other things to support him, but he still had to deal with his habits and even those habits that some would describe as good, such as his zeal in telling other people about Jesus, which got him into trouble with some people in the churches he had been attending.

There were other things that also had to be resolved in his life. Some issues surrounding his childhood, his mother’s death, his family and the damaged relationships there, all these things needed to be dealt with and you can’t just say “I’ve changed” and expect everyone to see it and understand it straight away. As we get to the end of the book, we can see there is a growing maturity to his faith, as he has through the years dealt with the issues, and even in the writing of this book has discovered new things that had to be dealt with.

This is an inspiring story which God is using, as Allen is given a platform to share it personally. It isn’t the most eloquent book, it feels like it is Allen himself talking to you about his life for much of it and that conveys his personality. I also noticed that there are some issues of typesetting which were a little odd for a book like this, with punctuation dropping down to the next line and even at one point the final line of a chapter being printed above the next chapter heading. All in all, this is a captivating story and for me, it shows that no one is too far gone to be reached with the good news of Jesus Christ, and sometimes, like the Prodigal Son, we have to get to our very lowest point before we see the Father’s overwhelming love and grace for us.

Taming of a Villain by Allen Langham | Free Delivery at Eden

Main Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lion Hudson

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In the quest to bring you more insights Sorted includes interesting articles from specially selected Guest Writers. Each piece is carefully chosen and edited by our own Editorial Team to inform, inspire and entertain our readers.

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