29 December 2016

Review: Beneath the Heavens by Lindsey Barlow

More Weak Points than Strong Points

Beneath the Heavens starts well, introducing readers to midwife Esther Callen and her son Michael, then flighty teacher Abigail Silver. It’s soon apparent that both women are going to find love during the course of the novel.

This leads to one of the problems with the novel: shallow characters, because it meant there wasn’t enough time to focus on them all. Will’s characterisation was shallow at best, and I never felt any emotion from him. Abigail came across as an inconsistent mix of flighty and intelligent—I would have liked more consistency in the beginning, and more character growth throughout the novel.

Joseph was assertive to the point of controlling, and I wasn’t convinced that was healthy. Overall, Esther was the best character, in that she was the one with the most consistent story and the most believable change.

The plot was typical of a Christian historical romance novels set in the American West in the late 1900’s, although it did try and cram too many romance tropes into a single book. The writing started well, with lines like:
Her father had told her that religion was delusion, but to her, it was conclusion. The answer to all her problems, until it wasn’t.
Unfortunately, the novel as a whole didn’t live up to this early promise, with multiple writing and editing issues such as not using contractions (which made a lot of the dialogue feel unnatural and wooden), confusing point of view changes, punctuation errors, anachronisms (words that are too modern for the 1896 time setting) and some questionable vocabulary (mild swearing and misused words).

Overall, not a novel I recommend.

Thanks to Light Messages Publishing for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Lindsey Barlow at her website, and read the introduction to Beneath the Heavens below:

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