Finally! I'm sure you've been eagerly awaiting all week .... ;)
Here's my review of this week's blog tour book Thicker than Blood.
If studying your craft is the key to a good novel, than debut novelist C.J. Darlington should have no trouble getting her engine going. As co-founder of Title Trakk (www.TitleTrakk.com) several years ago, Darlington has been reading, reviewing, and interviewing authors on a regular basis. And if "writing what you know" is the credo of all good writing, then Darlington's decision to write about sisters could have something to do with the fact that her Title Trakk co-founder is her sister Tracy Darlington. But lest you fear that the strained and estranged relationship of Christy and May Williams in Thicker than Blood bears any resemblance to the Darlingtons, your fears are quickly put to rest in the Acknowledgments where the author declares her own sister to be her "best friend."
There's a reason why Thicker than Blood won the 2008 Christian Writers' Guild Operation First Novel award; this first-time novelist has packed her story with compelling characters, nail-biting, cringe-inducing action, and settings both intimate and majestic that would keep any moviegoer pinned in their seats if this were a film script. But in the best tradition of what makes novels such a unique art form, Darlington also delves into the heart-wrenching and mind-bending inner lives of her characters, which wouldn't translate to the big screen - but which does affect readers' own hearts and minds.
The Williams sisters are part of a family that is torn apart by alcoholism and the early deaths of their parents. Teenagers at the time, older sister Christy is old enough to drive, and run she does, leaving little sister May in the care of their great Aunt Edna. For 15 years, the sisters' lives take completely opposite paths. They have no contact with each other, yet both never forget the sister they used to know. Even though the sisters' lives have gone down different roads, they each find themselves at crisis points when the novel begins.
In screenplay terminology, the Inciting Incident to get the sisters back together occurs when Aunt Edna dies - and that's the only plot point I'll give away! Christy's situation, in particular, quickly devolves into chaos, and the danger in her story ratchets up to life and death levels, eventually catching May up into the web of deceit and murder. Through it all the presence of God is debated, doubted, and decisive in the lives of al involved.
If you enjoy character-driven and well-plotted stories full of action and introspection in equal measures, if you wonder whether the family ties of God's children could ever be thicker than blood, or if you just like getting the scoop on a burgeoning new novelist, then check out C.J. Darlington's Thicker than Blood. You'll turn the last page feeling that reading the Williams' sisters story was time well-spent.
Saturday, January 23, 2010