Monday, January 21, 2008

Back on the Blog Tour: Auralia's Colors




I’d hoped to be more faithful in blogging the last few weeks, and I do plan to continue the “what am I researching” thread, but for now I’m jumping back into the Christian Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog tour for this month.

And I am SO glad I took the time to read this one!

For January the CSFF blog tour is reviewing (and please note the separate links here in the author's name and book title) Jeffrey Overstreet’s Auralia’s Colors—an impressive first novel by someone who’s a professional reviewer himself, and who has an amazing grasp on the essentials of contemporary Christian artwork. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I haven’t been this impressed by a Christian fantasy novel since Karen Hancock.

If you haven’t yet heard of this book, the story summary goes something like this: an abandoned baby girl is found by two former thieves, and taken in by their community, former criminals working toward restitution. Their kingdom has outlawed the wearing or displaying of bright colors, an edict handed down by a power-mad queen who then mysteriously disappeared. Auralia’s purpose seems to be awakening people to what has been taken from them, and restoring to them a delight in all things beautiful and true. But she is vastly misunderstood by those who seek to hold control over the kingdom, and in trying to destroy her, the entire kingdom begins to crumble.

I don’t know what I expected as I began to read. I’d handed the book to my voracious seventeen-year-old son (my oldest), and his response was puzzling at best. Do you like it? Is it good? I asked. He would just reply hmmm, you need to read it ... Mom, have you read it yet? I have a very hard time making time for reading just for pleasure, but finally I set everything else aside and started in.

The story starts a bit slow and seems to ramble ... but like Auralia’s weaving, the beauty doesn’t become apparent until the piece is nearing completion, and then the reader (at least, this reader) is nearly blinded by its brilliance and complexity. My son, just then finishing up two semesters of college composition, was as blown away by it as I.

The ending isn’t “happy” in a traditional sense (and my husband was quite irked over that), but it’s redemptive. And some of the “sad” things (I put that in quotations because I’m not sure where the writer’s going with everything—this is the first of a four-part series) were just so beautifully done.

But more than the beauty of the writing and story crafting was what the book does on a spiritual level. Just as Auralia’s purpose is to awaken people to their innate longing for beauty and truth, I found myself re-awakening to my own longing for beauty—for heaven—for God Himself.

This is not a one-for-one allegory of Christianity; it’s more a mythical parallel, and I believe all the stronger for that. My son and I have agreed that we’ll be the first in line to get the next installment on the story.

So, write well, Jeffrey! We can’t wait.

Other participants in the Most Excellent CSFF blog tour:

Participants’ Links:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russell
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

8 comments:

  1. YES! I felt that same call to beauty. And it was cool to hear what others in your family thought of it as well!

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  2. Welcome back, Shannon! Excellent review. You're right about the ending, but it didn't bother me personally so much. And you're right, it'll be fun to see what Overstreet has up his sleeve.

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  3. Good review. I found that my reaction to the story was very similar to yours.

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  4. You're right that it wasn't happy in the traditional sense, but it didn't overly bother me, either.

    It will be very interesting to see where he takes the next book!

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  5. I like your comparison of the plot and story coming together at the same time Auralia's cloth coming together! That is very apt.

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  6. I'm really looking forward to reading this one. I wish I'd had time before hand. Sounds like ti's worth it, for sure!

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  7. So glad to have your input again, Shannon. Love your comments about the book.

    Becky

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  8. Great review Shannon. You've brought up some good story points without giving away too much of the story.
    You were right about the slower beginning bring you into the story. Walley's descriptions of Farholme and the Assembly made it more believable, so when the attacks begin I felt more connected with the characters and theior response.

    Tim

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