24 January 2017

Review: A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

It's hard to know how to rate this book. I selected it from NetGalley for review because it was a new-to-me author (and a male!), in a genre I enjoy (legal thriller), and from Thomas Nelson (an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, which is important to me when I'm choosing books to review. Hey, my blog is called Iola's Christian Reads. The clue is in the title. I want to read and review Christian fiction).

As far as I can tell, this is Corban Addison's first book with Thomas Nelson. 

His previous highly acclaimed books were from a general market publisher. As this should have been, because A Harvest of Thorns is a general market legal thriller, not Christian fiction.

It has swearing and a rape scene and while a couple of characters go to church a couple of times, it's clearly because that's what people 'do'. The only people of faith were Muslim--and I have no objection to reading fiction about Muslims if that's what I'm looking to read. But in this case, it wasn't (see point above about the name of my blog!).

Okay, that's enough ranting about the genre. What about the book?

Some of the writing was outstanding, like the opening line:
The sparks danced like fireflies in the semi-dark of the storeroom. 
Some of the writing was below average, like the awkward dialogue tags. Some was overly intellectual. I have a pretty large vocabulary, but found myself stopping to look words up at least half a dozen times while reading (hurray for the Kindle dictionary!). I also found the structure awkward, as it flip-flopped back and forward in time, and was written in several Parts, each of which started at Chapter One.

Now to the actual plot and theme of the novel. 

Cameron Alexander is head legal counsel for Presto, a multi-billion-dollar retail chain, and the centre of a scandal involving a factory fire in Bangladesh. Cameron is responsible for putting out the resulting PR fire, and for improving internal compliance so Presto’s reputation isn’t compromised again. Almost two years later, Joshua Griswold is the journalist challenged with finding the truth behind the fire and Presto’s real involvement, and bringing it to the world’s attention through a legal case.

There were a lot of excellent things about A Harvest of Thorns. 

The author obviously has an extensive understanding of the law, business, global supply chains, and how easily things can go wrong (which makes me wonder how many other companies have such irregularities in their supply chains). It also reinforces that people do what you pay them to do, even if you tell them otherwise.

The underlying theme of A Harvest of Thorns is social justice: can we in the First World truly justify our never-ending consumption of cheap imported goods, made by sweatshop workers and slaves? And if we do have a problem (and as Christians, we should), what do we do? From this point of view, it’s certainly a novel that Christians should be reading.

Overall, I think this is a 4-star book. 

The writing ranged from average to outstanding. The plot, characters and overall theme were solid to excellent. But it wasn’t Christian fiction … which is what I expect from Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.


  1. TradePubs are getting vacant. It's been a long time since a saw even a religious book from them—certainly no redemptive books.

    1. I agree. That's why I review so few books on Reality Calling. I'd like to review more.

    2. It seems like romances and mysteries have the fewest redemptive content. I suspect it's because authors pick those genre to make money—as opposed to authors who have a story to tell that they just have to get out.

    3. Yet you'd think that the message of Christ's unconditional love was perfect fodder for romance.

      I think we need all kinds of books--there's always a space for books that are simply entertaining yet still reflect Christian values (especially given how much our ideas on love and entertainment are different from those in the world).

      But it would be nice to see a few more books with a redemptive theme, especially when one or both of the protagonists don't start out as a Christian.

  2. I agree. Though my ministry is to authors and readers who desire redemptive or spirit-filled fiction, I enjoy a good, clean entertaining read as well. There is room for all. My focus is people called by God to write—to help them work through what that means for them.