Category Archives: Speculative Fiction

Afloat by Erin Healy

Afloat cover artTitle: Afloat

Author: Erin Healy

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Description:

Who will you trust when dark waters rise?

Eagle’s Talon is an architectural marvel—shining residential units afloat in a protected cove of the gorgeous Rondeau River. The project is nearly complete, partially occupied, and ready to make investors rich when a sinkhole gives way. Then torrential rains and a flood leave a ragged collection of builders, investors, and residents stranded in one floating building, cut off from the rest of the world.

They’re bitterly divided over what to do next.

Architect Vance Nolan insists they should sit tight and wait for rescue. Developer Tony Dean wants to strike out into the darkness. And single mom Danielle Clement, desperate to protect her young son, Simeon, struggles to hold their motley band together.

Power failure, a pall of unnatural daytime darkness, explosions in the distance, then a murder ratchet tensions to a boiling point. But Danielle’s young son, Simeon, has spotted something strange underwater—beautiful, shifting lights in the dark water below.

In this watery world where everyone’s secrets will eventually come to light, salvation may mean more than just getting out alive.

Another stunning exploration of the human spirit and supernatural possibilities from best-selling author Erin Healy.

Review:

Vance Nolan designed floating housing with the goal of providing affordable housing for the poor and homeless. Tony Dean finances the project and then turns the floating condos into an exclusive housing development for the wealthy. Danielle Clement is a single mom struggling to find her way after the death of her husband, and both Vance and Tony want her for their own. When disaster strikes the floating neighborhood of Eagle’s Talon, everybody who gets trapped by rising floodwater must set aside their differences if they want to survive.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading Afloat, but what I got was a complex mystery, supernatural elements, suspense, and a new way to view Psalm 119 all wrapped up in an almost apocalyptic setting. Between the eclectic cast of characters, mysterious events, and revelations about what brought several of the characters to Eagle’s Talon, the story pulled me in and made it difficult to put the book down. The plot contained so many twists and turns that I couldn’t even begin to guess what might happen next. Every time I thought things couldn’t get worse for those stranded in building 12, it did. Yet through Vance, his old friend Zeke, and Danielle’s five-year-old son Simeon, it was impossible to not hope everything would turn out all right in the end.

Ms. Healy did an amazing job of showing the battle between good and evil, as well as God’s faithfulness even in the worst situations. The contrast between selfishness and love, which creates selflessness, is artfully woven throughout the story. I particularly enjoyed the way Ms. Healy applied verses from Psalm 119 to events in the story and used them to give Vance strength when his faith struggled. If you enjoy suspense or speculative fiction, you’ll enjoy Afloat.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Speculative Fiction, Thomas Nelson, Thriller

Fire Prophet by Jerel Law

Fire Prophet cover artTitle: Fire Prophet (Book Two in the Sons of Angels Series)

Author: Jerel Law

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Description:

Fire Prophet is Book Two in the Son of Angels Series. Spirit Fighter began the Son of Angels series.

What if you could actually see angels and fallen angels engaging in battle—and you were expected to join the fight?

It’s been one year since Jonah Stone and his sister, Eliza, discovered that their mother is a nephilim, the product of a union between a human and a fallen angel, which makes them and their little brother, Jeremiah, quarterlings, or one-quarter angel. After embarking on an epic journey to rescue their mother and the other nephilim, who were kidnapped by fallen angels, the Stone kids have enjoyed a little peace and quiet.

But when Jonah and Eliza are attacked by fallen angels at school, they learn that quarterlings all over the world are being targeted, and separating them from their parents is the only way to keep them safe. The kids undergo special training to help them discover their own unique angelic gifts, which come in handy when they embark on a mission to find a mysterious prophet who they believe holds the key to Abaddon’s defeat in a massive battle between good and evil.

Parents today are looking for fiction that makes Christianity and the Bible exciting for their kids. This series is the first Christian answer to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Kane Chronicles, the Secret Series, and other middle grade series packed with adventure, action, and supernatural fights. But the message is solidly scriptural in that God alone is always in control.

Review:

Jonah Stone and his younger brother and sister, Jeremiah and Eliza, are quarterlings (one-quarter angel). Abbadon, the ruler of evil, is determined to destroy the Stone children, every other quarterling, and the nephilim (half angels). Jonah and his siblings take refuge with the rest of the quarterlings and begin learning to use their angelic abilities to fight evil. The quarterlings’ parents, both nephilim and human, are taken to other secure locations for their own protection. Jonah, his brother and sister, and their new quarterling friends must work with the angels and use the unique gifts Elohim has given each of them if they are to save their parents and themselves from death.

When I first read the description of this book, it sounded like an amazing story full of action and lively battles between good and evil. While the book does contain these, it fell far from my initial expectations. Speculative fiction requires readers to suspend their disbelief and accept that the fantastical elements could really exist. Unfortunately, the first third of Fire Prophet contained too many ridiculous and clichéd elements for me to adequately suspend my disbelief. The story did improve after the first third and began to live up to the potential given in the book’s description. The spiritual battles were vividly described and drew me in, allowing me to almost experience them alongside the characters.

I say almost because of another set of issues that cropped up throughout the book. The frequent head-hopping and shifts to points of view other than the protagonists made it difficult to fully get into the story. Minor consistency issues also pulled me out of the story. I also started skimming over the repeated statements of the kids disappearing from the physical realm every time they entered the hidden realm. The first time or two they popped into the hidden realm, it made sense to mention that they suddenly vanished from the view of anyone in the physical realm. By the second half of the book, however, I felt as though the author didn’t think I would remember that going into the hidden realm meant the quarterlings were hidden from the sight of any nearby humans.

Over all, I think this is a book children in middle school could enjoy because of the fast-paced action and unique plot. I wouldn’t recommend it for high school aged kids, however. Despite being labeled a young adult novel, it reads more like an upper middle grade novel.

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Filed under Christian, Fantasy, Fiction, Series, Speculative Fiction, Thomas Nelson, Young Adult

The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer

The Canary List cover artTitle: The Canary List

Author: Sigmund Brouwer

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Book Description:

Protected by the dark of night, Jaimie Piper runs. But is anywhere safe when Evil is hunting you?
 
She’s just a twelve year-old girl, bumped around between foster homes and relegated to school classes for challenged kids, those lagging in their test scores or with behavioral issues. But her real problem is that she can sense something the other kids can’t—something dark. Something compelling her to run for her life.
 
All Crockett Grey wants is to mark the anniversary of his daughter’s death alone.
 
But when his student Jaimie comes to him, terrified, her need for protection collides with his grief, and a tangled web of bizarre events sends them both spiraling toward destruction.

Crockett’s one hope of getting his life back is to uncover the mysterious secrets of Jaimie’s past and her strange gift. It isn’t long before his discoveries lead him to a darker conspiracy, secrets guarded by the highest seat of power in the world—the Vatican.

Review:

When we first meet Crockett Grey, a teacher his troubled students affectionately call “Mr. G.”, he’s determined to get as drunk as possible in an attempt to dull the pain of losing his daughter. He thinks he’s seeing her ghost at his window, but then he realizes it’s one of his students. Jaimie Piper is terrified and Mr. G. is the only person she can trust to keep her safe from Evil, which she can feel hunting her. Unfortunately, her arrival draws Crockett into a complex and frightening conspiracy that extends all the way to the Vatican. In order to protect Jaimie and regain control of his own life, Crockett must work with child psychologist Dr. Madelyne Mackenzie and a hacker named Catfish to uncover the truth.

Author Sigmund Brouwer doesn’t disappoint with this speculative fiction thriller. From the beginning, readers are drawn into a dark and scary conspiracy that takes the standard “what if” question to a whole new level. The main question explored in The Canary List appears to be “What if a Satanist holds a high position in the Catholic Church?” As expected, this leads to a plot full of twists and turns, fraught with danger, and many references to make readers wonder if demons are real.

This book is not for the faint of heart. However, if you enjoy conspiracy theories, thrillers, suspense, complex mysteries, or speculative fiction, this may be the book for you. The Canary List contains all of this, along with a very disturbing look at what could happen if certain key elements of the story were real. The story grabs readers from the first page and holds them captive until the very end. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Brouwer’s work in the future.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Speculative Fiction, Thriller, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group