12 July 2016

Review: Deep Shadows by Vannetta Chapman

Amazon Description

All It Takes Is One Night to Plunge the World into Darkness

Life in Abney, Texas, is predictable and safe—until the night a massive solar flare wipes out all modern technology.

Shelby Sparks, novelist and single mom, had one goal: to provide for her diabetic son. In the wake of this global disaster, her mission hasn't changed. Only now, medication is a priceless commodity and the future resembles an apocalyptic nightmare.

Max Berkman and Shelby were once sweethearts, but he lost his chance at claiming her love years ago. When the abrupt loss of power ushers him into a leadership role, he rises to the occasion. But his highest priority—to keep Shelby and her son safe—could prove to be the biggest challenge of all.

As the brilliant northern lights give way to deep shadows, Max and Shelby's faith will be tested like never before. Only one rule remains: Find a way to survive.

My Review

There is probably something wrong with me, but I’ve always had a fascination with this kind of end-of-the-world fiction. I suspect it started with authors like John Christopher and Jack Wyndham, not to mention the dystopian novels I can’t even remember the titles of.

In the late 1990’s I came across a modern Christian version set in the English town of Ampthill—After the Fire by John Lockley. Most of the population had been killed off by some plague, and the village had enough old technology that the survivors adapted without too much difficulty (England. It’s full of old technology).

Although the survivors had banded together to beat the odds, natural human selfishness eventually shone through and the end was somewhat bleak. The lasting theme seemed to be that the more things change, the more they stay the same and that our only hope was eternal (yes, it had an excellent Christian theme running through it).

Several years later, I started reading Terri Blackstock’s Restoration series, set in the USA. I couldn’t get past the first book. My basic problem was that the novel didn’t seem realistic. People were nice (except for one stupid woman, who I thought/hoped was going to be killed off and then realized she was the central character. Oops). No one got sick. No one died. And there was plenty to eat and drink, which seemed ridiculous considering they were living in a built-up area with no produce available (in contrast to Lockley’s characters, who almost starved while waiting for the wheat harvest to ripen).

So I was a nervous combination of anticipatory and apprehensive when I started Deep Shadows. Which way was it going to go? Thankfully, it veered more towards the Lockley version, although it’s set in Texas which means everyone is armed to the teeth and not afraid to defend themselves. Which is a pretty scary thought.

The plot was excellent—the idea of a solar flare knocking out all the electricity is scarily likely, as Chapman explains in the back of the book. (I confess: I did get distracted, wondering how long it would take our local power company to take the electrical grid off the modern computers and back to however they did it when our first local hydroelectric power station opened in 1915. I refuse to ponder what a diet of kiwifruit—our biggest local crop—would do to us).

The characters were also excellent, especially Shelby and her insulin-dependent teenage son. Deep Shadows didn’t have as much Christian content as I’d perhaps expected based on her previous novels, but it was still good—and this is the beginning of a series, so the focus was more on setting up the story, and initial character development. The writing was certainly everything I expect from a Vannetta Chapman novel, although the genre is a departure from her more typical Amish romance and mysteries.

Overall, a great novel that kept me reading well past bedtime. I’ll definitely be looking out for the next book in the series—I’ll just make a point of starting it in the morning.

Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can read the opening below, and you can find out more about Vannetta Chapman at her website, http://vannettachapman.com/.

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