Monday, September 17, 2012

Kregel Blog Tour: Mortal Fire by C. F. Dunn

Publisher: Kregel Publications
Retail Price: $14.99
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384

Watch the book trailer.

Publisher Synopsis:
Twenty-nine-year-old, independent, and self-assured Cambridge history professor Emma D'Eresby has one obsession in life: the curious journal of a seventeenth-century Englishman, a portion of which was left to her by her late grandfather.

When an unexpected opportunity to study the journal in its entirety presents itself, Emma finds herself leaving Cambridge to take up a year-long position at a prestigious university in Maine. Anticipating a quiet year of research, Emma quickly discovers her work impeded by a range of unforeseen complications. From the start, there is the well-intentioned matchmaking of her vivacious Russian colleague, Elena Smalova, and the unexpected jailing of one of her post-graduate students. More troublesome, however, are the unsolved, brutal night attacks on women near the university and Emma's suspicion that they might be linked to the sinister English professor, Kort Staahl. But, most diverting and disconcerting of all, is Emma's growing attraction to the strikingly handsome Dr. Matthew Lyons, whose kind but deliberately distant demeanor puzzles her.

Suspense and dread mount when Kort begins to take a persistent and unsettling interest in Emma. What are Kort's intentions, and what is he capable of? And the mystery surrounding Matthew only deepens when Emma discovers a link between him and the journal. What is Matthew trying to hide?

Reader Review
The book is full of mystery. From the first chapter, the ominous tone is firmly set and carried throughout each page. Some details take awhile to come out--pieces about the main character's life are dispensed in very small tidbits which added to the overall mystery.

Emma faces quite a mixed reception when she arrives at Cambridge. Some colleagues treat her warmly and others prove to be rather menacing. Emma's experience of some very real harassment from a colleague along with rumors of the president's moral misconduct created quite a bit of tension and foreboding. I was surprised at how long the harassment went on between Emma and another professor and nothing was done until she became in very serious danger. And the book ends before
justice is served--adding yet more mystery to the storyline.

Reading this book was like venturing through an elaborate maze with twists, turns and redirections. Unfortunately readers will not find the exit in book one. By the end of the book, Emma hasn't even cracked open the journal that she was so obsessed with researching. I can appreciate the strategy of leaving readers hanging so they'll buy the next book.  But I can't help feeling as though some may be turned off with the absence of closure on so many different fronts.
Personal Thoughts
I would put this book into a somewhat more "edgy" Christian fiction category. Christianity was woven into the book as more of a philosophical discipline--along the lines of an academic exercise.  The main character claimed to have had a conversion experience but some of the choices she made did not line up with behavior I would expect from a born-again believer.
I can understand pre-Christian indiscretions. But I would expect them to be viewed as wrong in hindsight. I never honestly felt as though Emma felt true remorse for those past decisions. And Emma also made what I consider morally wrong choices even after her conversion--actions that within the confines of the first book seemingly had no consequence. 
Usually it's obvious within the first few chapters where the book is going. So to get all the way to the end and find out that one character may be something other than human was a little frustrating as I  have difficulty reconciling my faith with paranormal stories.

Obviously the paranormal genre is extremely popular right now so for those readers looking for a clean alternative with Christian overtones, C. F. Dunn's Mortal Fire may be a good choice. Just be prepared to remain in suspense before learning the rest of  Emma's story.

Read other book reviews for other perspectives on this book. And check out an excerpt here.

Learn more about the author C. F. Dunn and browse her website

Special Offer: Mortal Fire is 20% through September 30, 2012. Details here.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review. No other compensation was received.

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