Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book Review: The Bone House

A few months ago, I posted a review of The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead.  I concluded that review with the following words:
This is a good book, but I would have enjoyed it more had I known that I shouldn't expect anything to be resolved when I reached the final pages.  Or if the next book was already available.  I think this would make a great late-summer read, because then the next book will be out soon!
Well, we are now past late summer... and the second book is out.  And before I get too far with this review, I want to point out that the third book in this series, The Spirit Well, is not due out until the fall of 2012.

The Bone House does pick up the story amidst all the various conflicts and story lines that were not remotely wrapped up in The Skin Map.  So, the blurb from the publisher:
Kit Livingstone met his great grandfather Cosimo in a rainy alley in London where he discovered the reality of alternate realities.
Now he's on the run—and on a quest—trying to understand the impossible mission he inherited from Cosimo: to restore a map that charts the hidden dimensions of the multiverse. Survival depends on staying one step ahead of the savage Burley Men.
The key is the Skin Map—but where it leads and what it means, Kit has no idea. The pieces have been scattered throughout this universe and beyond.
Mina, from her outpost in seventeenth-century Prague, is quickly gaining both the experience and the means to succeed in the quest. Yet so are those with evil intent who, from the shadows, are manipulating great minds of history for their own malign purposes.
Those who know how to use ley lines have left their own world behind to travel across time and space—down avenues of Egyptian sphinxes, to an Etruscan tufa tomb, a Bohemian coffee shop, and a Stone Age landscape where universes collide—in this, the second quest to unlock the mystery of The Bone House.

In pondering the story, I have mixed reactions.

First, I was incredibly grateful that the beginning of the book included a cast of characters.  I commented with The Skin Map about how -- for the most part -- I was able to keep the various characters and timeframes straight.  In The Bone House, however, the chapters jump around to cover more characters in more places, and for at least the first half of the book I found myself flipping back to the front to figure out just who it was I was reading about.  It may have helped to have read the books back-to-back, but still... there are a lot of new characters in this one.  One bonus was that each chapter started better... with a bit more of a "this is who/when/where you are reading about now." 

The ending of The Bone House was far less unsettling than the ending of The Skin Map.  Though it doesn't wrap the story up in a nice little package, it didn't have quite that same "WHAT just happened?!?" feel that the final chapter of The Skin Map had.  Or maybe it was just that I now expected Lawhead was going to throw some new out of the blue twist in at the end, so it didn't shock me.

I loved the character development in this story.  Particularly getting to know Kit and Mina...  but filling in some backstory on other characters as well.

I really appreciated the author's notes after the story... where he talks about physics and science in general.  As if it wasn't clear from reading the book, Lawhead possesses a lot of scientific curiosity and knowledge.  That's probably one of the things I like about this story -- it is plausible.

My bottom line now:  I love the writing style, I love the language used in describing the locations, and the characters have grown on me.  If you can get ahold of both books, and you are at all drawn by the what-if of time travel (though this is not exactly time travel), then I certainly recommend these books.  I would not read The Bone House without first reading The Skin Map.  And I would not read The Skin Map unless I knew I could follow up with The Bone House right away.

Disclaimer: As a Booksneeze Blogger, I did receive this book for free from Thomas Nelson. No other compensation was received. For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

No comments: