Friday, May 4, 2012

Fiction Friday: Book Review of THE UNRAVELING OF WENTWATER by C. S. Lakin

The Unraveling of Wentwater is the fourth book in The Gates of Heaven Series by C. S. Lakin. Unlike most other series, each book in this series has different characters and settings, and can be understood without reading the other books in the series.

The village of Wentwater is home to superstitious, simple people, while the nearby Heights is made up of intellectuals—people who pride themselves in their worldly wisdom. Teralyn, a young musician who has grown up in the Heights, finds romance in the village—but she also discovers that it was prophesied that she would cause the unraveling of Wentwater. Through the schemes of a wicked witch and the desperation of a bitter man whom Teralyn has scorned, Wentwater does indeed unravel—one word at a time. Teralyn must make a difficult choice and endure much hardship to save both the village and the Heights.

In The Unraveling of Wentwater, Lakin used elements from several fairy tales (“Sleeping Beauty,” “The Wild Swans,” etc.) to create a unique and imaginative story. Of the books I have read from The Gates of Heaven Series, this is my favorite so far. As a writer, I certainly can appreciate the way Lakin crafted words to form a story that emphasized the great importance of words and their meanings. She included several interesting plays on words that greatly added to the enjoyment of the story. Even after reading the book twice, I’m not sure that I caught all of the wordplays.

Lakin also employed Scripture and symbolism particularly well in this story. The climactic moment was exceptionally brilliant, revealing both the darker aspects of human nature, and our need for something greater than ourselves.

It was hard to immediately discern whether one of the important characters was a protagonist or an antagonist, which made for a difficult read, at first. One of the things I like about fairy tales is that it is almost always easy to see whether a character is virtuous or wicked. I’m not sure if Lakin intended the confusion, or not, but after completing the story, I could certainly see reasons for such ambiguity. But while I enjoyed several of the characters in this story, I don’t think that her character development was as good as it could have been. Some of the dialogue was cumbersome, and I had trouble understanding some of the character’s attitudes and actions.  As much as I enjoyed the story, I feel that just a little more attention the characters would have made it even more enjoyable.

But aside from that, I would definitely recommend The Unraveling of Wentwater for older children, teenagers, and adults. This is a highly imaginative and well-crafted story about the importance of words, the value of faith, and the truth that love conquers all.

I received this book for review as an Advanced Reader Copy from AMG Publishers. The Unraveling of Wentwater will be available for purchase in July of 2012.

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