By Sharon Hinck
Genre: Christian fiction/christian speculative fiction
Synopsis: Susan Mitchell sees herself as an ordinary soccer mom, until she’s pulled through a portal into another world, where a nation grappling for its soul waits for a promised Restorer to save their people.
She has always longed to do something important for God, but can she fill this role?
While she struggles to adapt to a foreign culture, she tackles an enemy that is poisoning the minds of the people, uncovers a corrupt ruling Council, and learns that God can use even her floundering attempts at service in surprising ways.
This story begins with Susan, a middle aged woman on the fringe of losing hope, slowly slipping into a mild depression. While trying to find a quiet space in her attic to regather herself, she is literally sucked into an entirely different world than our own.
I immediately identified with the female protagonist in this fascinating story; an exhausted housewife, with four children, married twenty years. I’ve only been married less than half that amount and I’m already exhausted raising two kids, one who has unidentifiable dietary allergies…
When she is sucked into this new world, her fragile grasp on hope quickly dwindles away as she tries to figure out where she is, when she is, and why she is there at all. Even when she is told that she is the Restorer, she has no idea what that entails; nor does she know how to cope with new, interesting gifts. I personally would call them magic or powers, but they’re not called magic in the book. Think, Wolverine-super healing, super-senses, in the body of a skittish, squeamish middle-aged woman.
The author’s writing is fabulous. She has a unique, interesting voice, and uses fresh, interesting similes and descriptions. I loved how Susan revealed bits and pieces of her life back in our world through random memories that were triggered by the people she met or the strange things she ate, or the landscape of her new world. There was no info dump as people often call it. We found out through her own eyes, through her own mind, what was going on. We learn about the world and it’s people as she learns. The story held a varying cast of characters, from guardians to rebels, to elders and puppets to politicians, good and bad. The entire time, as a reader, my mind was with Susan. I didn’t trust the people she met until she trusted them. And even after she began to trust, I still didn’t at times! So many of the characters are full of secrets and layered personalities.
I enjoyed the pacing of the story; it lured me in, chapter after chapter, bringing me back. The theme of hope v. hopelessness ebbs and flows, rises and falls. Just when we as the reader get a breather from the action, and we think that there might be hope for Susan’s situation, a twist comes out of nowhere and knocks you over the head – and there were many twists! Some predictable, some not at all!
I also loved the world building – I’ve studied the old testament enough to recognize some of the biblical history that she implements within this new world. I love how she uses fragments of our world, bits of biblical history, and her own imagination, to build an interesting, yet vaguely familiar world. That it is slightly similar to our own I think, keeps the reader grounded a bit more, and certainly helped to keep Susan grounded.
To explain the power of this book is difficult to do without giving away all the twists and turns. I thought instead, I would provide a quote. Just before this quote, Susan and her husband had been speaking the words of Psalm 23.
The One was my restorer. I had wanted to bury the pain and doubt, never to go back and face it, but the One had let me see the hurt that still cut a fissure through my faith. He showed me that He had been with me even in the valley of the shadow of death. He drew out the poison and washed it away with anointing oil. And i understood I could only be a Restorer when I let the one continue to restore my soul.
This quote symbolizes the message and the power of this story. To be a true Restorer for the people of this new world, Susan has to let God restore her soul first and continually. This is her constant struggle throughout the book. I needed this story. It encouraged me, as hope becomes more and more apparent. It encouraged me to remember who my God is.
I am very excited to continue reading this series. It’s characters are fascinating, yet completely relateable as they first began as ordinary people in our current world.