Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I am a new member of the Chrisitian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am thrilled that this week's book is Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins. Brandilyn has created a really fun character blog at Scenes and Beans. Yours truly is one of the writers for Jake, a retired logger. Here's my review of Violet Dawn:
As an reader who inhales Brandilyn's suspense, I was excited and a little nervous to pick up a copy of Violet Dawn. It is the first book in the Kanner Lake series, with a different ensemble feel than the Hidden Faces series. Hidden Faces in told in the first person from Annie's point of view. Violet Dawn bounces around an ensemble cast of characters while focusing on Paige Williams and Rachel Brandt.
Kanner Lake is a idyllic fictional town set in Idaho. A perfect tourist resort along the lines of Coeur d'Alene, Paige Williams believes it is the place to escape her past. When her past catches her, she throws herself on a crazy ride to try to escape its clutches. Some of her angst is of her own creation, but I found all of her actions believable, even as I wanted to scream at her "don't do that." It's a 24 hour roller coaster ride, with flashes to the past with another character Rachel. At first these backward glimpses give you as the reader a chance to catch your breath. But as you near the end, the plots collide increasing the pace of the story.
The ensemble cast gathers at the Java Joint for their morning coffee mixed with analysis of the town. There isn't time in this book to flesh each of them out fully, but I didn't expect that. The three or four who interact with Paige become real and distinctive as the pages turn. I look forward to their further development in the coming books of the series, while hoping I get to see more of Paige.
I also found the faith elements of the book real and unforced. The majority of the book occurs within a twenty-four hour period, making it impossible to probe the full depths of the character's faith, yet letting us see their questions, fears, and faith. Brandilyn strikes a balance that strikes me as real. Her portrayal of faith resonates because it isn't shoe-horned in to the story, but is a natural outgrowth of the characters' experiences and background.
When I read suspense, I race the author to see if I can figure out who's doing it before the antagonist is revealed. Violet Dawn was filled with enough twists and turns to keep me guessing even when my gut started leaning in a direction.
I highly recommend this book to lovers of tight suspense.