Friday, June 13, 2008

The Sword of Lyric, Part 3: The Restorer’s Journey

Title: The Restorer’s Journey

Series: The Sword of Lyric #3

Author: Sharon Hinck

Genre: Adult Alternate Reality

Excerpt from Chapter One of The Restorer’s Journey:

My mom was freaking out.

She stared out the dining room window as if major-league monsters were hiding in the darkness beyond the glass. Give me a break. Our neighborhood was as boring as they come. Ridgeview Drive’s square laws and generic houses held nothing more menacing than basketball hoops and tire swings. Still, Mom’s back was tight, in the shadowed reflection on the pane, I could see her biting her lip. I didn’t know what to say to make her feel better.

I ducked back into the kitchen and used a wet rag to wipe off the counters. Clumps of flour turned to paste and smeared in gunky white arcs across the surface. I shook the rag over the garbage can, the mess raining down on the other debris we’d swept up. Broken jars of pasta and rice filled the bag. Our dented toaster lay on top of the mess, looking like it had been drop-kicked across the room. I stomped it down, twist-tied the bag, and jogged it out to the trash can by the garage. Usually I hated the chore of taking out the trash. Not tonight. Maybe if I erased the signs of our intruders, Mom would relax a little.

A teenage boy follows his mom’s kidnappers into another world, only to become caught between a corrupt king and outlaw guardians.

The Story: With a no-frills style that allows the raw emotions to seep across the page, The Restorer’s Journey is by far the most intense book of the Sword of Lyric. It plunges unashamedly into the jungles of confusions fraught with dangerous animals and wanders the deserts of despair, where hope shimmers like a distant, unattainable mirage. It drives the reader to confront the shadow within we’d all rather forget exists at all.

Yet through all the swordfights and isolation, deception and death, truth pierces the night: God is here. He is at work. He is in control. He will never forsake.

Sometimes that light is only a flickering flame; sometimes it’s a glaring sun; sometimes it’s a soft glow in a wispy fog. But it is always there, beckoning you on, culminating in a challenging question: When the cost is counted, when the darkness of the path is revealed, will you follow Him?

The Writing: Because The Restorer’s Journey deals with the darkness of the human heart—including in the heroes—the characters could have easily become unlikeable or off-putting. Yet they are not. At every step, you’re there beside them, cheering them on in their struggles, agonizing with their decisions, begging them to turn back when they go the wrong way even as you admit that you would have probably done the same. Through it all, the heroes remain heroic, and even a tingle of sympathy is created for the villains. And if that had been the only strength of this book, it probably would have been enough to pull most through to the end.

But not only are the characters very identifiable, the plot is well-paced also. The beginning is slightly off-kilter and occasionally one POV seems to overwhelm the other, but these are minor flaws and do little to impede the building tension. In addition, this current final book of the Sword of Lyric wraps up the series with great satisfaction, while leaving an opening for imagination and even future stories. (That, of course, depends on sales—so if you want more, buy more of the books!)

Finally, I especially appreciated the dry sarcasm of the teenage son and how the language/descriptions remain fully rooted in the POV, whether it’s memories of home or comparisons to TV crime shows.

Summary: The Restorer’s Journey may not be the perfectly crafted book, but it remains well above the average with great depth of character and emotion. A good read for teens and adults (especially moms) with extra accessibility to those new to the fantasy genre.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Also check out the reviews for Restorer (book 1) and Restorer's Son (book 2)--or buy Restorer's Journey here.

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