Monday, 16 March 2009

The Restorer - The Sword of Lyric - a book review

The Sword of LyricThe Restorer is a Christian fantasy by Sharon Hinck and represents a bit of a departure for the author, who had been better known for her women's fiction.

Susan Mitchell is a stay-at-home mother of four whose life is disappearing under a grey blanket of depression. Her husband builds her a private space in the attic where she can get away from family demands. It works too well, as she finds herself whisked away in the mother of all electrical storms to another world. She learns - to the horror of all concerned - that she is a Restorer to the People of the Verses. Neither she nor the People have much confidence in her, but the signs are unmistakable.

Three reasons you might like this book
1. A portal story that centers around a suburban housewife who must learn to be so much more. Yes, there are some cliched tropes here, but choosing such an unusual protagonist helped to refresh them. The skepticism on both sides was also an interesting twist. Susan's struggle to grow into the role and the mistakes she makes are really the center of this story and ring quite true to life.

2. Hinck likes twists. When you think you see where things are going, you get side-swiped.

3. There is a sweetness of spirit that pervades The Restorer which I suspect is typical of Hinck. (I haven't read any of her other books yet.) The authorial voice that shines through makes me think that the author would be a wonderful friend.

Three reasons you might not like this book
1. My biggest beef is the frequency of "telling" as opposed to "showing". In other words, Hinck is constantly explaining things to the reader, rather than letting us discover them for ourselves. A quick example: "For the first day or so I was comforted by their presence. After a while I felt claustrophobic." We don't get to participate in these emotions, we are just told about them. Or she will deliver her conclusions, without letting us see how she arrived at them. It could have been a much more powerful story if Hinck had trusted her readers to get it, instead of telling them what to get.

2. I wasn't always sold on the believability factor. One major twist left Susan stunned with disbelief. Me too. Unlike her, I never bought it.

3. It's explicitly Christian. If that is an automatic turn-off for you, you would be turned off. Mind you, it's not a book that tries to convert the reader, as it is written to a Christian audience and is more concerned with the walk of faith than it is with persuading non-believers. Of course, for the intended audience, this is a selling point rather than a turn-off.

Three sentences from page 33
A shudder ran through me. "Mark," I whispered, "where are you?" The thought of Mark - who always squashed the scary bugs in our house and defended me against relentless insurance agents or dishonest repairmen - did me in.
(It was a pleasure to watch her grow out of her wimpiness.)

Other reviews
Title Trakk
Novel Reviews
Grasping for the Wind


Anonymous said...

This book (series, actually) has been on my wishlist for more than a year now.

Janet said...

Wordlily, I got it from NavPress's blogging review program. Gotta love free books!


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