Welcome to Roses & Thorns. If you’d like to join me as a volunteer reviewer, please e-mail me at email@example.com. As of the first of the year, I will go back to reviewing two books a week. I found myself with books scheduled through June, and decided to go back to twice a week.
All books receive honest reviews, regardless of source. Submission guidelines are below in the left margin.
Roses & Thorns
Thursday, December 4, 2014
House of Mercy by Alicia Ruggieri
A story of justice, love, and mercy in post-Roman Arthurian Britain.
When a hailstorm ruins her father's crops, Bethan goes as a kitchen servant to Oxfield. There, she intends to work off her family's debt to Lord Drustan before returning to marry the fervent son of a local priest. Yet, in her first days at the old Roman fortress, Bethan meets two men who are very different from the priest's son, friends who have dark histories... and shrouded futures.
In his twenty years, Deoradhan has swallowed much of sorrow’s cup and found it bitter. Haunted by his father’s murder at the hands of one he trusted, distanced from the Roman God who betrayed him, burning to obtain his rightful throne in the rugged north, the young exile returns to Logress, where High King Arthur holds together a frail confederacy.
There at Oxfield, Deoradhan's friend Calum seeks absolution for a deed he committed many years ago... a deed that ended in the death of one dearest to him and drove him from his home.
Will Deoradhan stop at nothing to gain his rightful position? Is atonement possible for Calum after so many years? And what of those - including Bethan - whose lives have become interwoven with theirs?
Christian alternative historical fiction, appropriate for young adult/adult readers.
Review by Donna Hechler Porter:
First, let me say, Alicia Ruggieri’s beautiful writing style
is poetic and lyrical. I’ve not ready someone’s prose in a long time that quite
As for the rest of the book, well, this one has been a hard
one to rate. It doesn't really fit into any niche as far as fiction is concerned. It is historical fiction, and there
are “love stories” in the book, even romance of the highest kind as far as
sacrificing oneself for love of another.
However, it’s not romance as typically defined in our society. It’s
inspirational, but there are bad people who do bad things to good people in
this book. The Christians certainly talk the Christian talk, but they have
very real problems both internally and externally. And there are multiple
viewpoints, not the typical “two” – the hero and the heroine - that publishing
houses like to see. All in all, this
means that the book can’t necessarily be judged by the “typical” standards. It’s just too different.
Dealing strictly with elements of fiction, the plotting didn’t
grab my attention at first. It wasn’t boring, but I certainly had no problem
putting it down and coming back later. Then, about 60% of the way through, I
didn’t want to put it down.
I was also never really clear on the goals of the characters
except for Deoradhan. I think the
plotting, at points, appeared thin simply because there were so many point of
view characters, and I never really fell into deep point of view with any of
them. However, the story elements do come together at the end.
Now, I usually like suspense and “bite your nails” kind of
plotting, which this book was not, but it is written in such a beautiful way,
with such a beautiful message, that I came away thinking and rethinking on it
for several days after I had finished it. For me, that’s the greatest impact of
any book – that the characters are alive long after I have closed the last
Now, I will warn you, this is a very Christian book, so if you don’t like the
quoting of scripture, or characters that put God at the center of their lives,
then don’t read it. I will say, that the characters’ faith is a natural outflow
of their lives and the time they live in. I imagine Christians in the 6th
century speaking much like this, and none of it comes across as “preachy” which
is often the case in Christian fiction.
All in all, fans of Christian fiction who like books that
are not edgy or suspenseful, will enjoy this artful read. Based on the artsy quality, and the beautiful
prose and message, I am giving it four roses.