It seems I've been doing book reviews more than anything else lately. I've been lacking in inspiration for other topics, and have also been busy, and had computer troubles, but I keep having opportunities to read books and write reviews. However, some ideas that have been brewing in my mind are ready to come out.
But for now, I hope you have been enjoying the book reviews, because I have another one for you. Instead of the usual Bible study/inspirational book, this one is a work of historical fiction:
Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman
Published February 24, 2015 by Bethany House Publishers
The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest have skills to match those of the more well-known outlaw band of Robin and his merry men, but little does anyone know, these outlaws are children and teens, stealing food and clothing just to live.
Merry Ellison, once a lady, now leads this band of orphaned children in the mission of survival. Though she dreams of her past life and longs for love, she will do anything to keep this new found family safe.
Timothy Grey is the ninth son of a baron, and wants to prove his worth and rise to greatness. When the Ghosts have been spotted in the nearby forest, Timothy sees capturing them as his chance.
But little does he know who there leader really is: the girl who once held his heart.
Dauntless is the first book in the Valiant Heart Series.
On Goodreads, Dina writes that this book is geared for a teen audience, but believes many adults will enjoy it as well.
The characters were very well-written and developed, with several learning and experiencing growth throughout the story. The character interactions were great and none of the characters seemed flat or unreal, from the determined yet lonely Merry, to the ambitious Timothy, to the oh-so-adorable little Wren. The orphan children were my favorites.
The plot itself was okay, a bit on the predictable side, but when likable, lovable (and dislikable) characters take the stage, the story becomes an adventure, even if you can figure out how it will end.
Faith and Spiritual Growth:
Several of the characters have faith in Jesus and each of the main characters experience spiritual growth. The way this is portrayed is genuine and natural. It doesn't seem as if the author writes about God just because this is a Christian book, leaving faith separate from the plot. Rather, the faith (or lack of) of each character is a part of who they are and motivates their actions, and their spiritual journeys feel authentic and are very much linked to the plot.
Lacking in Historical Enrichment:
Dauntless takes place in 1216, during the reign of King John. In a note from the author at the end of the book, Dina shares about her researching for this story, and, except for a few points which she notes, the story is historically accurate. But it didn't feel enriched by the historical setting. The story could have taken place apart from the historical events of this time. It could have even been written for a made-up world. As a lover of historical fiction, I would have liked to see the plot and characters more entwined with the historical setting.
A note to conservative readers: The character of the Earl of Wyndemere has promiscuous relations, but nothing is detailed. It is just known from a couple very subtle innuendos. The earl also uses a choice word to contemptuously refer to an illegitimate child. This word was used in proper context, but was still spoken as an insult.
Dauntless is a fun read and a great debut to this new series. I definitely look forward to the next books! I would recommend Dauntless to anyone wanting to read a clean, romantic adventure in the vein of Robin Hood legends.