Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Review - The Restorer

The Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy blog tour is highlighting The Restorer by Sharon Hinck this month. You can see yesterday's post for an introduction of the book, as well as the links for my fellow tourmates. I promised that I would post my review today.

Becky commented yesterday that a slight trend was developing that the guys of the CSFF tour may be less enamoured by this book. Certainly Sharon has some good endorsements from true-blue guys like Robin Parrish, T.L. Hines, and Randy Ingermanson.

Unfortunately, my opinion is that this may be more of a ladies read.

As I said yesterday, and the author freely admits, it is hard to categorize this book. This can create problems, because people like their comfortable descriptions ("You like reading Lori Wick? Try Deeanne Gist.") Like I posted recently, what would you think if Ted Dekker wrote a prairie romance (depends if it is written in true Dekker style, I suppose)?

I applaud Sharon's creativity to do something new. Inherent in this are the risks that something may not work across the board.

The premise is intriguing: a discouraged soccer mom gets pulled into an alternate realm and finds her calling to help the people. The book is written in the classic "lit" style (mom-lit, chick-lit), which fits with Sharon's two previous books. The mom-lit style tends to be a little light-hearted, which undermines the seriousness of the situation in the alternate realm in danger of being overwhelmed by enemies.

A couple of reviewers have noted that the main character spends a lot of time whining about her situation both in the real world and in her new locale. Some of this is to be expected in such a situation, but it does get grating after a while.

I've seen a lot of praise for her world-building, but honestly I felt quite disjointed by it all. It is a bit of "science fantasy", where there are some things that are futuristic like the transports mentioned, but other aspects of life are standard fantasy (swords and such). I wasn't able to picture the world very well-it seemed the description of different areas was either sparse or not very memorable. However, the preferred drink in the alternate world, clavo? I could almost taste it, as much as it is mentioned!

To be fair, there are some nice twists in the story. The major twist I didn't see coming, and was pleasantly surprised by that development. In the middle of the story the heroine has an epiphany of a spiritual experience, and I thought it was very touching and well-written. That is one point where I really felt drawn into the whole experience of the book, and it was very enjoyable.

But overall, it was more of a chore to read this book for the review. I think the idea was clever and had a lot of potential, but in my opinion it falls apart in the voice and world-building aspects and never really gets me to a point of investing in the book or characters. This is just my opinion-many of the reviewers this time site what I've just said as strengths of the book. So tomorrow I'll pull together a few of the reviews from the tour to give y'all a fair picture of The Restorer.


  1. Good points, and as a male, I have to say that I agree with you ultimately on what you see as the novel's weaknesses.

    It's odd, isn't it, how we can get so many varied opinions?

    Perhaps The Restorer is a success after all.

  2. Sorry, Jason, I'm disagreeing with you again (is this the SECOND whole time??? Hahah). I think there is a very strong voice here. Susan Mitchell is a unique person, sees the new world through her mom-eyes and forces the reader to see it the same way.

    Sparse description? Maybe that's a matter of taste. I don't like long description passages cluttering up the story, not when it doesn't really matter.

    I hadn't picked up on the repetition of clavo. That's another interesting point.

    I'm filing all this info away and looking hard at my own work with these things in mind!


  3. Becky,

    *gasp* I'm shocked!

    Anyway, maybe a clarification is in order. Not to argue, for sure. I would agree that the particular voice is strong. Susan stays in character and you don't lose sight of that. I just didn't get into the voice. It didn't really entice me to follow Susan on her adventure.

    As far as the world-building, I think I chose saying sparse description because I never got a feel for the world. I don't have to have the "long description passages" as long as I enter the fictive world. I mentioned clavo because that was one thing I got a really good picture of!

    I'm not sorry I read the book, just it wasn't the most entertaining of the year for me. I agree that it is all worthwhile for helping us learn more about fiction. Seeing others' reactions, even if we don't agree, helps us to be aware in our own work (hopefully...)