Monday, May 13, 2013

Undercurrent: A Review

Title: Undercurrent
Series: Standalone
Author: Michelle Griep
Genre: Adult Time-Travel Romance
Ratings: Craft—3, Content—3,
Overall—3.7 out of 5 stars
Excerpt from the Prologue of Undercurrent:
A thread-thin shaft of sunshine needled Alarik’s closed lids, but he’d not open them—it would hurt.
His woolen tongue tasted of soured goat milk, and Thor’s own hammer beat against his temples. He hadn’t felt this bad since Björn’s wedding feast.
Something dripped a slow rhythm against his lips, trickling off into his beard. He toyed with the idea of swiping it away, but that would require too much effort.
A quiet rumble, low and throaty, moaned from afar. No, not far off. Near. And it carried a message of pain.
He blinked open his eyes, then swallowed back the shock of light and spit out a string of curses.
“Ja,” he answered, voice raw. His vision emerged like one who’d been in the depths of a fjord and risen from black, to gray, to stunning blue of day. He focused on a hand, palm open, relaxed, not more than an arm’s span above him. Deep red drops fell from a pallid fingertip and splattered onto his face.
A modern-day college professor is sucked back into the world of tenth-century Vikings.
The Craft: Undercurrent swirls adventure, romance, and history into a story that tantalizes the senses.
Characters are likeable, and the members of the cast are varied and distinct. The plot is solid, holding your attention page after page. But what made this story pop is the detail. Through the details, you are sucked into a world away just as much as the main character, and an era removed by both time and space comes to life. More than that, this attention to detail flavors not only the description, but also the dialogue, giving the characters’ voices a distinct roll and lilt that greatly pleases the ear, making the reading a joy.
The Content: Undercurrent, with its romantic subgenre and time-travel elements, focuses naturally on themes of home, a sense of place/belonging, and love. Not quite as expected, the theme of love is expanded far beyond the romantic kind. It also explores expansively the sacrificial love that Christ showed us, that forgives, protects, hopes, cherishes, and lays down self for another.
Concerning other topical concerns, both the genre and the historical setting lend themselves to stronger sexual elements. Among other things, there is attempted rape, sex between two secondary characters (which occurs off-page), references to past promiscuity, and females & males sleeping beside each other in a non-sexual context. Also, this romance doesn’t ignore the physicality of the attraction between the main protagonists. These elements are deftly handled and not at all out of place—indeed are necessary to the story—but needed to be noted.
Violence is not shied away from either. This age was harsh and often cruel. Undercurrent doesn’t romanticize that aspect away. Rather, this story depicts this dark edge accordingly—not unnecessarily, but still sometimes with stomach-churning bloodiness.
Finally, the supernatural is primarily reserved for the time travel element and couple brief, not-explain supernatural occurrences, which are in keeping with a biblical perspective of such things.
Summary: Undercurrent is a good read with strong Christian elements and vivid details. However, some of the content warrants some caution, especially for those with sensitivities toward violence or sexuality. Not recommended for those under sixteen, but readers who also enjoy historical will relish the texture of this story.
Ratings: Craft—3, Content—3, Overall—3.7 out of 5 stars

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