This is a post that is seriously overdue.
I picked up Sharon Hinck's The Restorer earlier this month. And then I couldn't put it down.
Oh. My. Goodness. The Restorer is one of the most amazing books I've ever read.
It's about a mom named Susan who accidentally steps through a portal in her attic. From there, everything is mayhem. Susan discovers God has something for her to do in this other world, but she's not sure she can fill the role set for her. Along the way there are mind poisoners, syncbeams, and sword fights galore, all held together by strikingly real characters and a totally believable world.
That was one of the things that amazed me. Every single character, no matter how large or small their role, lived and breathed. And when Susan enters the other world through the portal, I was there, too. The world that the People of the Verses and Hazorites and Rhuscians inhabit is, curiously enough, a flawless blend of science fiction syncbeams and lekhans, and medieval swords and kings and clans. it might take a chapter or two to get used to, but it's completely believable, and a world I would love to visit.
I fell in love with Susan, Mark, Kieran, Tristan, Kendra, Nolan... everyone. Except for the bad guys. They were bad. Villainous! And just as real as the protagonists. They were all so realistic and well done, I felt that I was reading about real people who really existed. Mrs. Hinck, you have my undying respect.
The story itself is gripping beyond words. Like I said, I couldn't put it down, often reading into the very *cough* late hours of the night to finished another chapter or five. You could hardly call it predictable; there were so many twists and turns and unexpected occurrences, and they keep the reader on their toes. Well, I guess that's an understatement, actually.
The Restorer is an incredibly unique, and I say that with admiration and high regard, book for it's genre. Especially because it's written in first person. As far as my knowledge goes, that's not something commonly done in the fantasy fiction arena. But Mrs. Hinck brilliantly pulled it off. And it made the connection to the characters stronger than the emphasis on the world, which I felt was beneficial.
A lot of fantasy authors, myself included, try and try to make the world we're creating realistic and believable. And personally, I have a feeling we're working too hard. In The Restorer, the world Susan was thrust into was just as real as our own, but it did not jump up and down, waving and shouting, "Look at me! I'm so realistic! Look at these great world-building skills!" Rather, it was just there, and the reader accepted it and believed in it. Once again, I bow to you, Mrs. Hinck.
What's also very real is Susan's struggles with her faith. Her spiritual journey was absolutely genuine, and it touched my heart. I love that the People of the Verses' relationship with the One is so strongly connected with words, and songs. I personally think that words are very powerful things (Hey, if God can speak the universe into existence, then words are not something to be trifled with.) and seeing the People of the Verses sing their songs to the One and speak His truths to heal others made my heart swell.
And the ending.... wow! I won't spoil anything, but let's just say I was incredibly grateful for the sneak peek of the next book at the back, not to mention my impatience to get the next book. Which leads me to talking about Book Two....
Here I chuckle fondly. If I thought that the first book was amazing beyond belief, which I did... well, let's just say The Restorer's Son surpassed all conceivable expectations. I have a feeling I'm going to die of overexposure to pure awesomeness before the series is finished......
But I digress.
As stated, this sequel to The Restorer is incredible. This time around, the narrative is shared between Kieran and Susan; Kieran has been thrust, with much protest, into the role of Restorer, and Susan and her husband have returned to the world through the portal in search of their son, Jake.
Again, the narrating characters' personal struggles with their faith draw you in and are just as real as your own wrestlings with our God. Kieran's deal with the One particularly tickled me, and I was holding my breath in excitement and anticipation the whole time. Susan and Mark have to run to the One as they search for Jake. And again, the antagonists from the previous book step in and make life difficult for all involved.
Once again, sword fights and syncbeams and scramblers and Rhuscians are scattered all throughout the story, not to mention the dry, absolutely hilarious humor from Kieran, and touching, amusing clashes of personalities all around.
It does get pretty intense in some places; but from child sacrifices to unplanned pregnancies, Mrs. Hinck handles everything artfully and gets much across without being icky in any way. (As a warning for any younger readers: the land of Hazor really is similar to the enemies of the children of Israel, who practiced evil and ungodly things, such as the sacrificing of children. In the encounters with the land of Hazor in the book, it gets a little intense, possibly even dark, but I promise, the One is victorious in the end!)
The other thing that was hilarious, occurring in both books, was this: the people from our world mention things like soccer and cars and things common to our world, and completely lose the people like Kieran and Tristan from the other world, whose world is completely different in some respects. There were definitely some tickling circumstances.
In some parts, The Restorer's Son left me speechless, other places left me breathless from cheering. By far, this book (along with it's predecessor) is one of my favorites, and one I will always hold dear to my heart.
Hee hee. Book Three, here I come!