I feel like such a jerk giving a negative review of a book that begins with 16 raving endorsements. The only thing I liked about the book was the skillful development of the character Toma. His persona was unveiled in parallel to the unveiling of the theme of sacrificial love.
Beyond that, there were a few things that bothered me:
1) The inconsistency of the language. The story is set in the 1700s, but the conversations are mixed with colloquial phrases from centuries later. Phrases such as “hunk of a man” and “party pooper” seem out of place in the conversations.
2) Many chapters are identical except for the setting and the characters. I grew tedious of back to back scenes of the same thing–good guy drawn by seductive being, confused by mystical culture and compelled to fight violence with violence. I felt like the book was trying hard to compete with dark, gothic vampire novels while holding on to some sort of spiritual reins.
3) The spiritual lesson in the book feels lik an after thought. I was two-thirds into the book before I felt this was a Christian publication. And even after that, there were a few uncomfortable moments. For example, Toma’s love for Lucine–while sacrificial in the sense that he was willing to die for her–was a physical attraction for the most part. I wanted to see Toma grow in a deeper understanding of what love really is. It was like he took a giant leap of commitment to love without knowing why.
Maybe the story is a very involved allegory with complicated symbolism that I just didn’t get. Or maybe the problem was that I was hoping for an Aslan and not a Toma. And this was just was not Narnia.
WIN A IMMANUEL’S VEINS T SHIRT DIRECTLY FROM THOMAS NELSON PUBLICATIONS: One thing the book does do is get you thinking about just how much you’d do for love. Will love incapacitate you from rational thinking and moral decisions? Or will love move you to towards God and goodness no matter what? And what is sacrificial love? COMMENT BELOW WITH YOUR T SHIRT SIZE AND YOU’LL BE ENTERED INTO A DRAWING FOR A FREE T SHIRT. ONLY NORTH AMERICAN RESIDENTS, PLEASE. I WILL CONTACT THE WINNER FOR THE MAILING ADDRESS.