Monday, June 20, 2011
Sam Travis thinks he is going insane, and he just might be. After having to take an extended leave from his work as a carpenter due to a nasty head injury, life is hard enough. But when he hears shots outside his Gettysburg home, it's not just a random event. He starts hearing the voice of his dead brother, while waking from his visions to a Civil War soldier's journal—but it's in Sam's handwriting. He has no memory of writing it.
So who is the enigmatic Samuel Whiting and how does Sam know so much about his life and about the war? Nothing makes sense anymore, and Sam's life takes a downward spiral into depression and hopelessness. If not for the love and faith of his wife and young daughter, his life would certainly be over. What can save him from the darkness, and from himself?
I wish I had read any of Dellosso's other books, so I would have something of his to compare this book to, or at least have some sort of reference to what his writing was like. But since I haven't, I would have to say his writing sort of reminds me of Travis Thrasher's. Not exactly, but sort of. And I'm not entirely thrilled with Thrasher's stuff (a bit too weird and dark), so maybe that created a problem for me.
Dellosso weaves Civil War history into this suspenseful tale, one of the more interesting aspects of the story, along with the allusion to sins of the fathers traveling down through generations. There was quite a bit of violence and depictions of abuse, which some readers may find distasteful, but the author brings everything to a satisfying ending. That said, I didn't care for the last few chapters, which served as more of an Epilogue/Afterward. I'm not sure all that was needed, or at least it could have been tied up differently.
I did like the strength of the daughter's love for her dad and God. It showed the power of a child's faith, and God's ability to do anything to get people's attention. There would have not been much of a story without her.
“The darkness” that came over multiple characters seemed to me like demon possession, although it wasn't specifically made out to be so. I have never believed that a Christian can actually be possessed. So maybe this is more of a matter of “oppression” but I'm not sure. And of course I could be wrong. I'll be interested in what others say about it.
All in all for a book of suspense, I'd give it a 3 ½ or 4 out of 5. The clever idea of 1863 and the present paralleling each other, along with overarching themes of love, faith, prayer, and perseverance made an otherwise okay book really good.
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