CFSS Tour - Day 1 - The Restorer, by Sharon Hink

Sorry guys...sad to say, I don't think you're going to like this read...but mom's of the world unite!

This week, the CSFF Blog Tour features:


My Take:

Tales of grand fantasy can be told in so many ways. Most often, they lend themselves to ongoing series, which can mount into epic, sweeping tales. Sharon Hink has forged the cornerstone for her own Fantasy legacy with the first book of her Sword of Lyric trilogy. So, who is going to read it?

Ladies, ladies, ladies...this one's for you.

Let me add some context. I don't enjoy chick-lit. I don't enjoy romance. I wouldn't go so far as to ever bash another artist's work simply because I find its genre lacking, so anything I have to say is shared under that understanding. I do think there are a great number of people who are going to thoroughly enjoy this book, I simply want the "dudes" out there to know, I don't think it's going to be them.

So, what do we have in The Restorer? Basically, whiny soccer mom transported to magical land becomes pivotal character in the battle to stop evil.

The good: As a man, I need these injections of female perspective to remind me how much I truly appreciate my wife. Often, the mother's role is taken for granted as simply "their job" or some nonsense. In truth, any good wife is the backbone of a happy family and any good husband is going to love and respect her and treat her as such. Sharon's work, shown through Susan Mitchell's view, helped remind me that even when life seems perfect, it might not be.

The bad: There is such a thing as overkill. Perhaps, (being a man, I claim this as my excuse) what I perceive as a bit too much whining on Sharon's part is simply a testament to the unspoken truths that will unite all mother's. Perhaps Sharon simply spends a good chunk of her story relating in perfect detail what her core audience (women) is going to know, and thereby elicit both empathy and sympathy for her character's plight -- which is none other than boredom in a perfect life. I have kids and listening to them whine is enough for me.

Also, (without spoiling), the conclusion leaves a bit to be desired. Too often (yeah, I've done it too), we like to introduce some supernatural or implausible element into our conclusions to neatly wrap up a story. Well...if I counted right, Sharon introduces three, which makes parts of her ending a little harder to swallow.

The story: Let's get one thing straight. Sharon Hink knows her craft and writes well. The reading is easy, the dialogue works, etc. This is, utmost, a fantasy novel. Though drawing loosely from Biblical scriptures and geology, the reader will find him/herself transported to a different time and place. Perhaps bits and pieces of the storyline could have been better developed (I suppose you can't have a good fantasy without a sword, right? Even when it doesn't exactly make sense...), but keep in mind this is the beginning of something bigger and any conclusion you find in this novel is merely a steppingstone toward the future.

So, if you're in the market for a chick-lit fantasy where soccer mom's become superheroes (complete with superhuman abilities like healing, becoming well-skilled with a sword just in time for major battles, and super sensory powers), this book/series is probably for you. I really think mother's everywhere are going to love this story. The writing is smooth, the setting is realistically painted, the main character is so deeply shared that you know what she's thinking, and hey, it's fantasy. If nothing else, follow the link below to read chapter 1 and see if you don't want to read more.

General information about the book:

Susan Mitchell is wondering what happened to God's plan for her. Her life can't just be about cleaning, organizing her family, and being involved in damage control for her four rambunctious children, can it? When Susan opens a box in labeled "Dress Up" in her attic, her question is answered.

Upon opening the box, Susan finds herself thrust into a parallel universe where she must help bring heathens and warring territories "back to the Verses." Susan is a Restorer, a prophet like the Biblical Deborah. Together with an unfamiliar sword, it is Susan's job to show the inhabitants of this new world how Jesus can save people.

Susan has always longed to do something great for God, but can she fill this role?

While she struggles to adapt to a foreign culture, she tackles an enemy that is poisoning the minds of the people, uncovers a corrupt ruling Council, and learns that God can use even her floundering attempts at service in surprising ways. This universe will forever change how Susan looks at life, love, and family. If she can get out alive.

About Sharon Hink:

Sharon’s undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication from Regent University in 1986. She spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a home-school mom, a church organist, and a bookstore clerk. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but in the meantime she’s pouring her imagination into writing. She’s published dozens of articles in magazines and book compilations, and released her first novel in 2006. In April, 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She and her family make their home in Minnesota.


Read the first chapter of The Restorer here. To get the biggest bang for your buck, make sure and visit Sharon's blog and website too. There is so much more than just the story to experience, that you should take it all in.

Also, please stop by the other blog tour stops this week to hear more about Sharon's work. Women especially, I encourage you to hear what the other ladies have to say. I get a feeling the female half of the CSFF tour is going to praise Sharon's novel and that it's going to meet with a great deal of success.

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver


kc said...

If you'd like a woman's (and mom's) perspective, come to my blog.

Good job, Dan, even if you're not a girl. ;)


Daniel I Weaver said...

Yes, a girl is one thing I've never claimed to be. : )

And Karri's review is quite insightful, I might add. The perfect contrast to my testosterone-induced review.

Hanna said...

Everyone keeps comparing this book to chick-lit and I just don't see it. Have you read chick-lit? Not trying to be rude, I'm actually curious, because to me chick-lit is light fluffy and fairly mindless fun, and the Restorer didn't strike that tone with me. But then I'm a girl :p

Becky said...

Hanna, I agree with you. This is not mom-lit, not even close. Horrors that a mom is actually the protagonist! I liked the way Randy Ingermanson put it--Susan Mitchell is a cross between Everymom and Wonder Woman. LOL

Daniel, I think I've tracked a 50-50 split between the guys, so I think the reaction to the book has more to do with those bent toward horror or sci fi and those bent toward fantasy. I could be wrong on that. It's just a guess.


Grace Bridges said...

Quite possibly Dan is right - this book is perfectly tailored for a woman's satisfaction :) See my review for details...

Becky said...

I don't know, Grace. Certainly, with a woman protagonist, women can relate. But how many times have you read a book with a male protagonist and related?

There are men who totally "get" this character and story (see quotes from Randy Ingermanson and Robin Parrish posted yesterday at Spec Faith). Otherwise, I'd assume this was the old argument--men don't read stories with women protagonists.

I guess I have to amend that: SOME men don't read stories with women protagonists. Just trying to figure out what makes the character engaging to some and not to others.

Is it possible to write an engaging character that, say 90 percent of readers will love? Did 90 percent of readers love Frodo? Or do fantasy readers read more for the plot than for the characters?


Daniel I Weaver said...

I've never been opposed to any fiction with a female protagonist. And to Hanna's point, I suppose the term "chick-lit" is a poor choice. I was more trying to make the point that the female readership is going to enjoy the read more than the male half. Mir makes a great point on her blog about abusing the term "lit" in general. There is a pretty big difference between most of the fiction these blogs tour and actual "literature" in the classical sense. Chick-lit is usually a more high brow, sassy, witty sort of fiction and this doesn't fit into that category at all. Thank you for making that point, Hannah.

Andrea Graham said...

I have a review up, too, at askandrea.adamsweb.us. This one got one of my most positive reviews (only came up with two small negative points, I usually do much better than that.) Is everything okay, Weaver? You don't usually out do me at the negative reviews thing. Or have we entered the twilight zone without my knowledge?