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:
Carol Bruce Collett
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Heather R. Hunt
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
John W. Otte