29 November 2011

Review: The Shard Fence by Keith Marsden

A shard fence is made of smashed glass bottles, jars and containers, with “the biggest, sharpest, deadliest pieces pressed into the wet concrete at the top of the wall, so that when it dried, a glass shard fence capped the wall and kept out all intruders”.  It is a sign of affluence in a country where so many people are desperately poor.

Brandon travels from affluent Oregon to a poor Brazillian favela to teach music at the Igreja da Esperança, the Church of Hope, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil – a city I have never heard of, yet with a population of 3 million people, almost much as New Zealand.  He quickly finds that it is going to be more challenging than he had anticipated.  A young man is killed as he arrives, and Brandon must decide whether he will stand with the people of the mission or 'be one who runs away'.  He is challenged to stay by Aline Reis, whose beauty has probably inspired Brandon to visit Brazil more than any divine calling.

Aline is a woman of strong faith in the face of the huge obstacles facing the church and congregation.  She must draw on her Christian faith to meet the needs of hurting people, and to stand firm in the face of evil.  Brandon, who is in Brazil for reasons of his own, must decide where he stands, too.  He quickly comes to learn that being ‘fortunate’ is not all about money, but is about things more eternal.  The Shard Fence had a clear Christian message, and a strong challenge around conquering our fear and living for God in what might seem to be impossible circumstances.  In that The Shard Fence, was excellent.

On the down side, the book had some elementary editing errors (misspelled words, misplaced punctuation, plot inconsistencies).  I also felt that there was not enough emphasis on the developing relationship between Aline and Brandon, although that could have been because I am a female reader who likes the romance side of the plot, rather than a male reader who might well find that the romance distracted from the ‘main’ plot!  I have heard it said that female readers prefer more ‘show’ than ‘tell’ in their fiction, whereas men feel the opposite.  From that point of view, this was definitely a novel targeted more towards the male reader.  It was an excellent story, but the romantic in me would have liked more development in that area.

Thanks to Keith Marsden and Club Lighthouse Publishing for providing a free ebook for review.

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