When Joshua and his sister Ruth set out on their journey to rejoin their parents out west, they expect a few rough spots. What they don’t expect is that their stagecoach will be waylaid and robbed, leaving only the two children to escape. Worse still, the one surviving outlaw knows that they’ve seen him and has no desire to publicize his face on a wanted poster.
Jed has had anything but an ideal life. Abused by his father, captured by criminals, then molded by them into a murderous gunslinger, there is something inside him that still feels a sense of guilt but he’s too deeply entrenched in his criminal lifestyle to back out now. So when two kids see him and escape, he has no choice but to chase after them through the wilderness before they can get to a town and describe him.
None of the three realizes that this one encounter will have far-reaching consequences that will echo through their lives–and through eternity.
As is evident from the synopsis, A Mighty Fortress has a fascinating premise full of dramatic potential. Interesting ideas pepper the narrative from start to finish, and the author shows occasional keen insight into humanity and character. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love this book, it wasn’t able to keep and hold my interest throughout. Aside from the moments of insight I mentioned, the characters tend to be stereotyped–with the Christian characters unrealistically perfect and the non-Christian characters disconcertingly evil.
I did appreciate the author’s willingness to tackle very difficult topics of evil–the story isn’t shy about handling dark and horrifying actions. We need much, much more of this and Christian fiction. However, these moments felt isolated in the overall “perfection” of the characters in their lives. Much of the story felt disconnected, with some subplots never coming to fruition. Everything was much “too easy,” and, with notable exceptions, nothing really bad happens to any of the main Christian characters.
The book is written in a simple, minimalist style which sometimes works well and sometimes doesn’t. On the one hand, it doesn’t have any unnecessary details, but it does a fairly good job of drawing the reader into the scene. On the other hand, it lacks interesting details, and it summarizes far too much–often telling when it should show. Several times the characters spend pages and pages quoting or singing Scripture or hymns, which caused me to frequently zone out.
As I said, I was really hoping to love this book, and I definitely think that the author has a lot of potential. I hope with her next book she can take some of the feedback provided by her readers and smooth out some of the rough edges that made this book hard to get through. I’ll be interested to see where she goes next.
Published on 1 April, 2014. Last updated on