Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: The Sword of Lyric

Title: The Restorer

Series: The Sword of Lyric #1

Author: Sharon Hinck

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Alternate Reality

Chapter One of The Restorer:

The attic hideaway was all Mark’s idea. He meant to be helpful, and I admit he had good reason to be worried about me.

I couldn’t seem to cope with the little things anymore—scrubbing jam off the kitchen counter for the millionth time, carrying decaying science projects out to the garbage, answering the constant questions from two teens and two grade-schoolers. Was I the only person in the house who knew where to find clean socks?

Self-help books told me to regroup—find time to feed my soul. But when I’d sit at the kitchen table with my journal, the children would fly toward me like metal filings to a magnet.

Mark had noticed how often I’d been snapping at the kids. More troubling than my short temper, a heavy fog had settled on me. It pressed down with growing weight and separated me from everyone else. I didn’t have the energy to care anymore.

One day, in his typical determination to fix things, Mark pulled me toward our back hallway. “Susan, I have a plan.”

A suburban mom fighting depression accidentally crashes into the midst of murder, political intrigue, and a world desperate for a restorer.

The Writing: Overall the writing of The Restorer is clean, straightforward, and easy to read. It’s not the fastest-paced book ever written, but I don’t think it was intended to be. It does take several chapters to settle into the story, a bit longer than your average plot, but once it hits full stride, The Restorer strings you along in ever-growing conflict that only sags slightly near the middle. However, in the end, the story climaxes in such a way that makes the journey worth it.

The massive description, common to many sci-fi and fantasy books, is noticeably lacking within Ms. Hinck’s novel. There’s plenty of description to provide the feel of the new world, but it is integrated with the action so well that I rarely ever noticed it. More than that, the description is neither complex nor high-sounding—another common problem in sci-fi/fantasy novels—but is solidly grounded in the voice of the protagonist. Who else but a mom would look at buildings and see her kids’ Play-Doh creations?

And the characters of The Restorer, with perhaps the exception of the villain, are complex people with flaws, virtues, and struggles that we all face. The protagonist, Susan Mitchell, is especially well-drawn and grants me the type of hero I’ve wanted to see in this type of story for a long time. Far too many protagonists seem to accept their entry into a strange world all too flawlessly. After all, how many of us would feel brave, clear-thinking, and ready to explore like they seem to be? I know I wouldn’t—I’d probably be more likely to curl up under the nearest tree-like plant and cry. So when I read about Susan’s terror, bewilderment, and longing just to wake up from this nightmare, I found a character with whom I can identify and sympathize.

The Story: This is perhaps The Restorer’s greatest strength, just like in Ms. Hinck’s other books. She weaves in seamlessly allusions that help shed light on the Bible without turning the story into an allegory, and the story demonstrates effectively the power of Scripture, something I think we far too often discount. I am also encouraged by how the characters sometimes have to wrestle with the different aspects of the same problem over and over. Often in books characters learn their lessons the first time around, and for me at least, growth doesn’t usually work that way.

The Summary: Though neither flawless nor extremely fast-paced, The Restorer manages to present an unusually realistic reflection of life in an unfamiliar setting with plenty of adventure along the way. The violence portrayed is not done excessively or in an overly explicit manner. Therefore, The Restorer is enjoyable read for voracious readers of fantasy—both teen and adult—while the easy reading and well-done descriptions makes this story accessible to those less familiar with the genre.

Rating: 4.2 of 5

Curious what others are saying? Check out some of the tour's other bloggers:

Trish Anderson, Brandon Barr, Jim Black, Justin Boyer, Grace Bridges, Amy Browning, Jackie Castle, Valerie Comer, Karri Compton, Frank Creed, Lisa Cromwell, CSFF Blog Tour, Gene Curtis, D. G. D. Davidson, Chris Deanne, Jeff Draper, April Erwin, Beth Goddard, Marcus Goodyear, Andrea Graham, Russell Griffith, Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Heather R. Hunt, Becca Johnson, Jason Joyner, Kait, Karen, Dawn King, Tina Kulesa, Lost Genre Guild, Rachel Marks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, John Ottinger, Rachelle, Cheryl Russel, Hanna Sandvig, Mirtika Schultz, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Jason Waguespac, and Daniel I. Weaver

(Book 2 reviewed here and Book 3 here.)

1 comment:

John said...

Well constructed review. I think you liked it more than I did. But hey, that's what preferences are for.