Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review - The Final Hour

The Final Hour  is the fourth and final book in the Homelander series, an action-packed yarn about love for country, family, and values - and the cost of standing against terrorists who would have them obliterated.  

Ever since falling into Charlie West's story last year, I have been anxious to see how it ends... and if the poor fellow ever gets to rest!

On the surface, these books are about a fairly normal high school kid running away from terrorists, solving the mystery of a forgotten year of his life, and putting his top-notch karate skills to use. Oh, and getting wounded and wearied beyond belief in the process.

I was in Abingdon State Prison. Locked away for a murder I didn't commit. Waiting for the men who were coming to kill me. With nowhere to run.

What keeps him going, besides the fact that he's the hero in an action/thriller book?

The answer, my friend, is all that flows beneath the surface in his patriotic and God-fearing veins.

Make no mistake - this book, like its predecessors, is first of all a thrilling read. I knew when it came in the mail that I had better be careful about opening the cover. I have sped through the other books like my life, instead of Charlie's, depended on it.

But it is the heroic and noble character of Charlie West that makes me want to sneak a set of these books into the room of every adventure-loving boy I know.

Charlie respects life and, however nasty the villain, he chooses to never kill needlessly. He hates to lie (old fashioned, eh?). He values freedom and morality. He takes full responsibility for his actions. And when left by all allies, facing impossible odds, he presses on to his last breath.

"You're not alone, Charlie. You're never alone"

These books were written particularly for teen guys, for whom too little quality fiction is written these days. I'm thankful to Andrew Klavan for seeing the need, and for writing a series that is anything but wimpy or dull.

But I can attest that even 26-year old ladies can enjoy Charlie's story. It may not be Homer, Tolkien, or Dickens, but between the fast action scenes, explosions, and karate moves lies a tale every lover of freedom may embrace.

*Thank you, thank you to Thomas Nelson for the free reviewer's copy of this book!  You did not pay me, nor did I have to give a good review.  I just liked it that much.*

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review - The Ale Boy's Feast

The Ale Boy's Feast

The fourth and final book of The Auralia Thread opens with House Abascar's journey northward, seeking a home. But evil haunts them in many guises. If the fabled city exists, how many of the dwindling house will reach it alive?

The forest has become bloodthirsty in root and twig.  The young king Cal Raven has disappeared. Shar ben Fray is galivanting in the southern desert.

And the Ale Boy?

Ah, the ale boy. The poor little fella is getting tired of rescuing everyone.  Will his job never be done?  

Mystery's Gift

Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a tale here that stands out as creatively different from many other Christian fantasy novels.  His plot is surprising, his language rich.  His characters don't fit into molds.  Twists pop up just when you think you've got it all worked out into a tidy allegory, leaving you gasping in grief, thrilling with delight, or simply blinking in astonishment.

The ale boy is probably my favorite of the wild cast of characters.  Still, as wonderful as they were, the characters are only a few of the crown jewel of these stories.  Shining out brilliantly are pictures of creativity, beauty, mystery, and unforeseen grace.


This last book, even more so than the previous three, contains some darkly violent images. These moments are used deliberately to show the disgusting and deadly nature of evil, but I wonder if they might have been carried off with a bit more suggestion and less detail.  A similar warning should be given for the temptations faced by adult characters, which, though appropriately shown as evil, make these not children's books.

I tend to agree with author Rachel Starr Thomson, who called the series "highly moral, but not simplistically so" in her excellent review here.


The tale ended well, and I could not read anything else immediately after.  I felt I had been on a long journey myself with all the characters.  While many loose ends were tied up by last few pages, a few were left blowing wistful and mysterious in the wind of wonder.

I was left with a strong reminder of the beauty in the world and the creative urge in us that reminds us of where we come from, who we were meant to be. Auralia's colors did their work well.

*Disclaimer* - I received a free copy of this book for review from Waterbrook Press.  But I didn't have to like it. :-)