The Restorer by Sharon Hinck is excellent speculative fiction from a Christian perspective.
This story begins with an intriguing hook. An every-day housewife is magically transported to a strange new world where she is expected to lead an oppressed people to victory while others try to kill her. And she has to figure out who she is in this world while all this swirls around her. That hook was enough to keep me reading.
The main character, Susan is easy to like and follow. Her conflicts are realistic. Her responses to danger are reasonable and change for the better as her skills and faith develop.
Hinck’s story world is well done. The people, the politics (conflict at every turn, even within the group Susan is trying to help), the society, the environment (it’s always cloudy) are all vibrant and the author weaves the interactions among all the facets of the world in to a believable fantasy reality.
All the characters, even the bad guys, are very believable. Hinck gives them personalities, quirks, goals and motivations that engage the reader and keep us in the story. We have to see what happens next.
At times, in Act 2, the story seemed to drag and get repetitious. The novel quickly regains momentum when Susan’s husband enters the fantasy world and together they work together to fight off evil. Along the way, deep secrets are revealed that threaten their relationship.
Plot twists are well timed and make sense in context of the story.
A strong Christian theme flows smoothly throughout. Hinck weaves it seamlessly into the every day life as a natural part of the characters lives. It never becomes preachy or judgmental. It’s simply part of the story world.
At its core, this story is very much a spiritual warfare without the angels and demons.
The suspense in Act 3 pulls you right in. The outcome is always in doubt until the climax. Susan’s bravery is exciting to watch as she overcomes her doubts and fears to fight.
Final twist is unexpected but believable and it’s a great hook into next book.