Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Out on a westward journey, a wagon accident has forced Clare’s husband to go back for help, and pregnant Clare is left alone with her four-year-old son, Jacob. When her labor pains begin, Clare leaves the wagon during the night, only to return and find Jacob gone. A passing frontiersman, Jeremiah, offers to help Clare search for her son, but getting the boy back from the Shawnee people who took him will be no simple task in Many Sparrows, a novel by author Lori Benton.

I must say I was gripped early on in this novel. I hadn’t encountered a childbirth scene as harrowing as the one here since the last time I watched Michaela Quinn in labor on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I didn’t remain quite as gripped the further I got into the book, but I hadn’t expected to. Having previously read three other novels by this author, I expected to gradually wade through a dense story and look out for the striking, brilliant parts, especially like the memorable ones in The Pathfinders series.

While this novel isn’t without its own striking moments, I did find the pace too slow at times. I’m used to the “waiting” feeling I’ve also encountered in other stories by this author, and waiting is indeed a theme of this novel. But I got a little weary here and there, waiting for the plot to move forward. Also, though I understood Clare and her plight, I wish I could have liked her more, at least as much as I did Jeremiah.

Nevertheless, I think this novel will be right down the alley of other historical ChristFic fans. And like the author, I’d also recommend readers to check out The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn after reading this, if they haven’t already.

 

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

A Flight of ArrowsA Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

He’d risked his life to fulfill a promise made with the giving of those white beads… Submitted, at rest, and victorious. This was what the Almighty could do with a man, if he would only submit his heart.

What began with a stolen biracial baby and the rumble of impending revolution in The Wood’s Edge becomes a mix of reconciliation and all-out war in A Flight of Arrows by author Lori Benton.

As battle lines are drawn and crossed, there’s aligning, clashing, and fighting among and between cultures, white and Native American. But love, grace, courage, and forgiveness also make their marks in this sequel. The author shapes key aspects of the returning characters’ collective journey in a style that’s beautiful and heartrending, bringing everything that they feel to life. And the use of Scripture here is brilliant: deft, spot-on, positively poetic.

The read is dense, detailed, and contemplative, which I appreciate, since much of the story’s weight is found in the characters’ hearts and minds. Yet, like the preceding novel, a lot of this story seems to be “waiting,” positioning and repositioning, waiting for “something” coming. So with the exception of a few events that gripped me in Part One, I didn’t fully get into the novel until around the second half.

Also, as there was much to resolve by the end, it almost felt like the book had too many endings, or perhaps too many concluding speeches. I think a story can only remain in its bittersweet closing stages for so long before it runs the risk of feeling a little too sentimental.

Now, one does have to read the first book in The Pathfinders series to understand this one and to thoroughly realize its significance. It’s well worth the time, given the depth, poignancy, and redemption in this historical saga.

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Here’s my review of the first book in The Pathfinders series, The Wood’s Edge.

The Wood's Edge

 

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

historical-books

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

The Wood's EdgeThe Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“You separated yourself from His mercy, out of mistrust, anger, grief–I don’t know… You have crucified yourself, but that work will never be finished… It cannot be. You are not Christ.”

So many things gone wrong after Major Reginald Aubrey steals an Oneida woman’s baby on the day Fort William Henry falls in The Wood’s Edge, a novel so meticulously titled by author Lori Benton. All the momentous happenings that are leading up to the American Revolution are rumbling in the background like distant thunder while a more immediate storm is brewing in the hearts and lives of everyone affected by a newborn’s kidnapping: people of two different races, and a mixture of both.

As I did with The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, I appreciated Benton’s handling of racial assumptions and prejudices in The Wood’s Edge. The times and places of the story are easy to get into, and even the letters written, with random Words capitalized like Proper Nouns, are so reminiscent of the Eighteenth Century that you can almost see their elaborate script, drawn with the tip of a quill. The earnest and flawed characters caught up in this tale have the power to break a reader’s heart, in bad and good ways alike, and the novel’s climax, along with the bits of time preceding and following it, bears nothing short of utter power.

The only real difficulty I had with the novel was that much of it seemed to be…waiting. While sometimes the unexpected would come out of the blue, other times it seemed like something major was about to pop off, then I’d turn the page to find that a year or some years had passed, without that big “something” popping off after all. It felt kind of like a string of anticlimaxes that led to more waiting, so after the novel’s gripping opening events (all the more gripping for me, since I hadn’t read the book blurb, just dove right into the book), I wasn’t truly gripped by the story again until the last quarter of it. Still, the last quarter wouldn’t have had the same effect on me if I hadn’t felt any of the waiting beforehand.

Grief and rage can give way to faith, hope, and love in trying ways, and while I wasn’t sure for a while if I would continue on with The Pathfinders series, now after this novel’s full and expectant ending, I’ll be looking for the sequel in 2016.

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Here’s my review of the second book in The Pathfinders series, A Flight of Arrows.

A Flight of Arrows

 

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

The Pursuit of Tamsen LittlejohnThe Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

She felt a stirring at the core of her being… It was fragile, still encompassed by grief. But it was there, taking root inside her like the tiniest of promising seeds. Maybe it was hope.

I found The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn to be a strange story, not a run-of-the-mill novel for which I could accurately predict every upcoming turn. It’s quite a piece of historical fiction, including the Lost State of Franklin, a part of U.S. history I hadn’t heard of before, and I enjoyed how author Lori Benton touched on aspects of race and interracial relations in early America. The nation’s dealings with race have always been complicated, oftentimes not very pretty, and Benton did a wonderful job of portraying how racial issues can’t be cut right down the middle in separate terms of black and white, or any color.

For a moment, I thought Tamsen and Jesse’s romance was going to carry on along the “girl acts snippy with guy because she’s attracted to him, and he constantly teases her because of it” trail, but I’m glad it didn’t, which I think would have cheapened this particular story.

While it was an integral part of the plot, one instance of Tamsen’s running off alone while she was living in danger seemed to be too convenient a way to set off key events, as one would think that by that time, Tamsen would clearly know better. I also slipped out of interest with the story at different points in the middle that I didn’t find intriguing or all that necessary.

However, this not-so-run-of-the-mill novel is one to stick with through to the end.

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You can read the first chapter of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn here.