Bad Faith (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Bad Faith"
Author Gillian Philip
Country  Scotland
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction, Young adult
Publisher Strident Publishing
Media type Print
Publication date 2008

Bad Faith is a 2008 novel by Gillian Phillip. This dystopian murder mystery explores the role of religion in life and government. This is Gillian Phillip's first full-length novel.


The book begins with the death of Cass’s grandmother, whom she calls Bunty. Seemingly simple, the story starts to show the attitudes of the people around her, and is an introduction to the characters themselves. At the beginning of chapter one, the family is back in their home, going about their normal routine, when Cass mentions to her brother that Bishop Todd, Bishop of the One Church, is missing. Griffin, or Griff, being a seventeen-year-old cynic, shrugs it off, ignoring his little sister and continuing to play black market video games. Later, when they go to deal with their family, Griff creates a spark. The family argues and the father admits to more than he wants known publicly, leading to everyone going about their own ways.

Cassandra decides to meet up with her boyfriend, Ming, despite the fact that she has homework due, but first overhears a revealing conversation between her parents. Things start to fall into place in her mind at that point. She hurries off to meet her boyfriend, and they discover a body. Neither wishes to be involved, so they do not report it. They hide the body in a cave, where they hope it will not be found. Ming makes a reference to Orpheus and Eurydice, begging her not to look back, but she does.

The story continues with Cassandra's father leading a church service, also making a reference to Orpheus and Eurydice. Cass asks for an explanation. She and her family then end up back at their home, with Ming appearing shortly. After seeing a press conference with Ma Baxter, they are all disgusted, but manage to go eat. The children end up parting ways after a run-in with an unpleasant acquaintance. Cassandra is mad at Ming because he has been using her as a pawn, as she describes it, in his little twisted games with Jeremiah. Cass ends up in the vestry searching around for things, where her brother finds her not long after she arrived. They then find their Aunt Abby, who has it in for Cass and is determined to give her a lesson in love.


  • Cassandra — The protagonist, Cassandra, or Cass, is the fifteen-year-old daughter of one of the One Church’s ministers. She is a complex character, confused and growing up in many ways throughout the novel.
  • Griffin — Cassie’s seventeen-year-old gothic older brother, he finds everyone to be a hypocrite. Griffin, or Griff, used to be an avid follower and fan of Bishop Todd when he was Rector Todd, but then something changed mysteriously.
  • Gabriel — A man of the One God, he is a priest in the One Church. As the head of the household, he brings in the money and does his best to parent his children, though they disagree.
  • Brenna — Cassandra and Griffin’s mother, and Gabriel’s wife, she can be the voice of reason in the household.
  • Ma Baxter — Known as the Mother of the Nation, she is the leader of what can be presumed to be a nation in Western Europe, possibly the author’s native Scotland.
  • Bishop Todd — The Bishop of the One Church and Spiritual Advisor to Ma Baxter, he goes missing early on in the book. Gabriel has a strong dislike for him that he never gets over.
  • Ming — Cass’s boyfriend, he frequently gets in trouble for blasphemy amongst other things.
  • Bunty — Cass’s grandmother, Bunty dies in the beginning of the book.
  • Abby — Brenna’s sister and Cassandra’s aunt, she appears in the beginning at the funeral and is mentioned by Gabriel as a potential guide for his own behavior.
  • Jeremiah Maclearen — The young man with whom Cass and Ming get into a scuffle on the road. He is also one of the scripture cops.
  • Ruth — A girl who goes to Cass's and Ming’s school and is in her classes. She calls Todd a goat and is a blatant bully at school.

Key terms and group characters[edit]

  • The One Church — The national church, it is the one true faith, essentially. It is the national religion to follow the teachings of the church.
  • The Faithful — Followers of the One Church.
  • Schismatic Movement
  • Scripture Corps — Some are students within school who "never get suspended".[1] Their motto is Save Yourself: Save your soul. They are fanatics who are fans of the Bishop and of the One Church.
  • Wardens — They are in charge of the church and Gabriel’s bosses, since he is a rector.
  • Apostates — Those who have renounced their faith and are considered traitors, heretics, and unbelievers. Atheists are considered bad, but apostates are worse.


Bad Faith takes place in a dystopian society. The government is a theocratic totalitarian regime run by Mother (Ma) Baxter. It is clearly stated at points that the nation used to be "godless", but now it has its faith again. The One Church is the national church, and everyone should belong. This is the ideology that she uses to maintain her power and the government itself.

There is a militia in the novel that goes around, vigilante style, doing their will to impose the beliefs of the One Church. Honour killings are not uncommon, even after the One Church forms and goes with the government.

Before the One Church, there were religious wars, different sects fighting over who was right; fighting for dominance. Even now, when Cassandra thinks that the so-called infidels might be better running things, Aunt Abby points out that everyone would tell them what to do. She makes references to terrorists who kill themselves to make a stand.

There is an obvious distrust of the government and law enforcement shown by several of the main characters. "Rocks are like policemen: only around when you don’t need one."[2]

There is a clear social hierarchy in the society and the school. Those that follow are favoured: the pure, the rational. Whereas those that dissent from the majority are heretics and secularists. They can have their land taken away at the will of the government and formerly they used to be burned.


  • Orpheus and Eurydice - Mentioned by Ming; he begs her not to look back into the cave where they hid the Bishop’s body, telling her that bad things always happen when you look back. This is about how Orpheus went down to the underworld.
  • Clue - "Reverend Green. In the Library. With the Candlestick."[3] This is a reference to a popular board game, where the object is to find out who killed the victim, where, and with what. After finding the base of a candlestick in the vestry, she wonders if it was used to kill Bishop Todd.
  • The Shadow[4]
  • The Crow[4]
  • Batman - At one point, when Cass is listing off what her brother is not, because he is actually frightened, she says "He’s not... the Dark Knight of Gotham City"[4]
  • Elvis Presley - Also mentioned in the beginning, when Aunt Abby picks the music for Bunty’s funeral, Elvis is mentioned again about midway through. He isn’t yet banned, as Cass thinks in the beginning, but when Abby sings Suspicious Minds,[5] the children point out he’s not allowed.


  1. ^ Pg. 31 of the book, Chapter 4, Flotsam
  2. ^ Pg. 30 of the book, Chapter 4, Flotsam
  3. ^ Pg. 86 of the book, Chapter 7, Looking For Clues
  4. ^ a b c Pg. 89 of the book, Chapter 7, Looking For Clues
  5. ^ Pg. 90 of the book, Chapter 7, Looking For Clues

External links[edit]