Yesterday, I had briefly introduced the book The Restorer by Sharon Hinck, noting that it is a fantasy where a pretty plain soccer mom gets transported to a fantasy-esque alternate world to become their local hero (for a time, anyway). I had picked it up for this blog tour mainly because it was the first in the series, and so many of our tours have been on book 2, 3, 4, etc. and I didn’t want to invest in having to buy the previous books in the series if I didn’t even know if I would like it (I could have donated them to either our local library or the church library, I suppose, but I guess I am just too selfish with my momey… and with the cost of books these days? Can you blame me? Not to mention that the fiction books in our church library are HARDLY utilized. ANYWAY). So, that said, I went into reading the book without really knowing anything about the author or the story, besides what I had read on the back.
Let me say one thing about this alternate universe type books: I like them, if they are done well. In my opinion, the epic story that can not be beat is the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, and that seems to be my yardstick for measuring all other books of this kind. Annoying? Assuredly. Does it often cause disappointment? Of course. Did it in this case? Absolutely not. Hinck creates a wonderful alternate reality, allowing for technology and sword fighting to co-exist. Parallel to our own world on so many levels, there’s one God, a to-be Deliverer (a Jesus for them), and then there were protectors of their faith/kingdom, which is quite like the Old Testament Judges.
I found Susan, the main character, to be believable, related and fully developed. I found that I could relate to how she was feeling, even though I’m not a 40-something wife and mother of four children. I liked that her character had faults, but was able to overcome adversity and herself at times to grow and do what was required of her – much like most of the mom’s that I know.
I do have to say that Hinck was able to keep me guessing. While some of my theories about how/why stuff was happening were pretty much spot on, there was more than one occasion where she zigged when I expected her to zag. I’d like to say that I’m a pretty intuitive reader – very few books really “surprise” me (George RR Martin’s series being one of the few where I still don’t know what to expect – mainly because of his ability to kill off main characters, and still have the series work. It’s hard to guess what’s going to happen when you don’t have the assurance that the characters won’t die).
Also interesting was the amount of “extras” that they put into the book. While we all kind of expect a map and a glossary of terms we may not understand, I wasn’t expecting a reader’s guide, a song sheet for the song that is sung during the book, nor a portion of the next book (aside: Which? Looks pretty freaking fantastic, if I do say so myself!! But I won’t tell you what’s in that part – it definitely contains spoilers). In general, I am pretty impressed with the publishing. For a descently sized trade paperback, it’s not all that heavy or cumbersome, which is a nice change. The cover is a little thin, but in this case, I don’t think that it takes away from it at all. While the cover itself isn’t all that interesting (I’ve seen better photoshop work), it’s not completely ugly, nor does it make it look like “chick-lit” or (worse) “mom-lit”. It does lend that fantasy feeling to it, which in this genre, it sorely needs. The weight of the pages is quite nice – not too thin, not too thick and honestly? Straight cut, which makes me happy (yes, I am the pickiest book buyer in the world – I dislike rough cut books unless they’re hardcover, and even then, it better stylistically match the cover of the book and the tone of the book – a chick-lit hard cover with rough cut pages makes absolutely no sense). I also appreciated how the extra’s in the back had grey edges, so I had a better idea when holding it of where the book actually begins. Nothing like carrying a book around to read at your next doctors appointment, only to be disappointed that you only have 4 pages of story and 50 pages of glossary left. Anyway, I guess you can say that I have a deep appreciation for well published and produced books, and this one did not disappoint me.
I would certainly recommend this book to everyone. If you’re not a Christian, you might dislike the religious tone of the book – but lets face it… most fantasy has SOME sort of religion in it. If you can handle a fictional character praying to a god, then you can probably handle this book – it didn’t seem too preachy to me (and I’m sensitive to that). However, if you have an issue WITH Christianity, I don’t think that you’ll like it. Just sayin’.
So, if you’re looking to pick it up, you can find it here on Amazon, or you could always request it at your local library, giving other people a chance to read it too!
Make sure to visit both Sharon Hinck’s website, as well as the other tour participants, as listed here:
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 Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Russell Griffith Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Heather R. Hunt Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Lost Genre Guild Rachel Marks Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Robin Parrish Rachelle Cheryl Russel Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver