Monday, December 7, 2015

Elizabeth Camden's "Until the Dawn" - a story of contrasts

Cover ArtDierenpark has been abandoned by the Vandermark family--but maintained by a small band of local servants--for decades. And over the years, small liberties have been taken for the sake of the village's inhabitants. But those liberties come to a crashing halt when the cynical Quentin Vandermark and his young son arrive to demolish their supposedly cursed estate. Sophie wants desperately to preserve the estate--her only purpose in life is currently set up on the roof of the old house. Though they are instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie find common ground in his troubled son. But given the trouble associated with the estate, could there something to the supposed curse? And will uncovering its dark history help or hurt?

It's a battle between superstition and science; the intangible and the tangible. And where does God fit in? I enjoyed the all the contrasts--how the Vandermarks seem cursed, yet their ancestral home Dierenpark seems blessed; the juxtaposition of rational and irrational schools of thought; the light that Sophie brings and the darkness Quentin exudes.

It's easy to feel for Sophie. She's sweet and kind and beautiful, and she would make an amazing wife and mother, yet even those who love her don't think she can amount to anything--not even manage to be a wife, if her three failed engagements are any indication. And as much as she tries to maintain a chipper view of life, she feels the hurt and discouragement flung her way, and feels the pain of her oft-trampled dreams.

The mystery, rooted deep in the past, offers an element of unpredictability to the story; to fully understand the present, they have to uncover the past, even if it involves darker dealings than they had dreamed. As Quentin is a self-proclaimed atheist, as opposed to Sophie's abiding faith, the author boldly takes a stand for Christianity in all its rational and irrational glory. Yet the message is simple, taken from John 15:17: "This I command you, that you love one another." Like the other contrasts of the story, the message is simple yet complex at the same time.

Thank you Bethany House and NetGalley for providing an e-copy to review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.

Check out "Toward the Sunrise," the free novella prequel to Until the Dawn.

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