Saturday, 23 January 2016

Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

Back Cover: Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie van Riijn sees no harm in setting up a roof-top weather station for her work with the newly established Weather Bureau. While the villagers are suspicious of the mysterious estate and its tragic history, Sophie has come to see it as her own enchanted piece of paradise.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover Sophie trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie yet find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There's a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark can no longer be kept in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

Review: I have a special soft spot for Elizabeth Camden's books. I read my first novel by her on my honeymoon. So now, every time I pick up one of her books, I am reminded of that happy time. This book, "Until the Dawn" is certainly in better shape than the one I took on our holiday - if I remember correctly it suffered rather unfairly from a dosing of sand and sticky sunscreen.

I'm rambling. I'll stop now.

Until the Dawn was a fabulous book. I started it yesterday evening and ended up staying up until midnight so I could finish it. My husband tried to pry it from my fingers around 11:30...but that didn't work out so well for him (haha). He's still learning that when a girl gets stuck in a very good book, it's best to leave her stuck until she finishes it.... and Until the Dawn is a very good book.

I loved the characters first and foremost. Sophie is impossible not to love. She dances across the pages like a ray of sunshine. You can literally hear the birds chirping when she's on the page. In contrast, Quentin is rather intimidating. His gruff exterior isn't just an exterior like most dark and brooding male protagonists...he is honestly a dark and disturbed soul. There were several instances in the book when I thought, if I were Sophie, I'd run away and never come back. But that's why she is the main character and not I.

Quentin has dabbled in many religions and cults with his eccentric uncle and has firmly chosen to be an atheist. If he can't see or touch it; it's not real. Despite that conviction, he suffers terribly from a force he can neither see nor touch - a very dark depression that runs in his family. A very unhappy man, Quentin finds Sophie's joy to be like acid on his skin. She drives him crazy - literally.

At the same time, Sophie finds Quentin a bit scary. His little son, on the other hand, begs for her love and attention. Sophie and Quentin find themselves repeatedly forced into proximity together and sparks fly - and not the nice, exciting ones.

In addition to the riveting interplay between Sophie and Quentin, there is also a brooding question demanding answers in the background. What is going on with Dierenpark? Why are their water lilies that bloom when they should not? Mussels that flourish when science demands they not exist? What about the strange artifacts they are uncovering? The hint of murder? I'll not say more - you'll have to read the book to find out.

I also really appreciated some of the conversations between Sophie and Quentin from a spiritual perspective. Quentin is an angry, bitter atheist who asks Sophie the types of questions most Christians squirm at being asked - and Sophie answers them brilliantly. In a way, the book was a really enlightening and encouraging read as I got to see how one might go about answering some of those difficult queries.

Lastly, the writing was beautiful. It's important to me that stories aren't just good stories - I like to enjoy reading the words. Elizabeth Camden is a lovely writer, which I both appreciate and respect.

I certainly recommend this book.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

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