Monday, January 25, 2010

Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington

rating: ***

publisher: Tyndale

First off, it is nice to kick off my return from a holiday hiatus from blogging with a new author.

Thicker Than Blood
by C.J. Darlington smells of old books and promise and is a welcoming frosty January read.

I must admit I have been impressed with C.J. Darlington’s tenacity in promoting her book. She has used an author’s seemingly most valuable marketing resource ( the internet) to tweet, facebook and blog about her first novel.

Moreover, I was eager to read the book because Darlington had won a major first writing award from Tyndale House for it. I think that is incredible and I congratulate her on her meticulous work. You glean from her bio and from the book itself that this is a labour of love and interest that has been lulling around in Darlington’s mind for a long while.

Christy is overcoming an addiction to alcohol and addressing issues of loneliness and the abandonment of love when the unthinkable happens: her beloved job at an Antiquarian bookstore and her burgeoning friendship with co-worker Hunter is disrupted but the sinister doings of Vince, an old flame.

Christyfinds herself drawn back to her roots--- and in particular the sister she has not seen in years ----to try and patch together the fragments of a life she learns is still valued: as valued as the first edition Twains and Hemingways she finds at auction.

Overtly Christian and filled with themes of redemption and grace, Thicker Than Blood is a thesis on the power of family, God and change ….

I commend Darlington on her first-hand knowledge of the antiquarian book world. I found Hunter and Christy's forays into auctions and appraisals fascinating and Darlington’s fascination with the world was meted out in a true and sustained fashion throughout the novel.

There were a few “rookie”moments that trailed the book:

First, the shaky transition from Christy's story and life to May’s didn’t flow smoothly. Secondly, the dialogue at times seemed forced and stiff as if taken straight from a Writer’s How-To guide.

Finally, Darlington doesn’t have a convincing grasp of anything secular: possession, tumultuous relationships, alcoholism: these all seemed like inserted bits of research and were not naturally ingrained in the novel.

Darlington is proud of her home-schooled Christian heritage but in this rare fact a writer’s background adds a friction and strips some of the validity and natural fruition of some very importantly bold and over-arching themes.

I am in no way suggesting a writer become “method” in obtaining this sort of information--- but when it is forced it is something very noticeable and can detract from the book’s potential to slip into the secular realm.

I was so happy for the chance to review this book because Darlington’s personality and passion shine through: two things I grant great merit to when discovering an author for the first time.

The book was not pitch-perfect but it does show some great seeds of potential. I look forward to reading more from Darlington---especially if infused with her first-hand and erudite knowledge of the antiquarian book world.

I would very much like to thank C.J. Darlington for the opportunity to read her promising first novel.

Visit C.J. here; follow her updates on the Christian culture world at TitleTrakk and follow C.J. on twitter!

No comments: