Friday, December 26, 2014

Fiction versus Belief

I have a gripe.

I recently read a book in an anthology in which most of the authors are unknown to me.
That's fine. Most of my favorite authors were introduced to me by reading anthologies in the beginning of my rediscovery of romance books. Since then, I always make it a point to read a few anthologies a year to find new authors and new book series to take on.
However, this one I did not like.

Sacrificed in Shadow by S.M. Reine in the Magic After Dark anthology.

The editing was fine
The pace was fine.
The author's voice was fine.
Even the basic premise of the story was interesting and engaging.

What I could not stomach was the underlying theme and the manipulation of the tenants of the Christian faith.

Yes, I realize that authors have the right to take poetic license.
I also realize that this tale is a book of fiction.
I also understand that for those that are not of the faith, don't believe or believe it's one giant fairy tale, the stories and history of the Bible are rich in creative fodder.

But for readers like me, I had a very difficult time separating my beliefs from the fiction written into this book.

Authors seem to love Lilith. She's a very wicked woman, I guess. Her story isn't part of my particular vein of Christianity.
In this novel, the author mentions that only the Star of David affected the heroine. Okay, that's fine. I never could understand why vampires were only ever affected by Christian symbols of faith. That always seemed a bit lopsided to me.

There was one statement where the heroine observed something that didn't bother her because it was blessed by man, not by God. I took umbrage to that because it's one of the things that IS changed by God through man - it is still touched by the Divine. It's not a ritual or tradition made meaningless because it's 'done by man'. It's an actual happening. So, I have to accept that the author took poetic license and made it to fit her world-building, which is again, fine. But if it's to subtly slide in her personal belief, then I, through my personal blog, will express my counter-opinion to that perspective and state that it IS touched by God and therefore relevant against evil.

Putting artistic interpretation of religion aside, I also felt that Lincoln, who featured so strongly in the beginning, ended up being a throwaway character. His actions at the end didn't thrill me. Oh, I understood his dilemma, but for all his strengths, he was weak. I had higher hopes for him.

The character of James was a conundrum. Hero or anti-hero, did the author give me enough to like him or hate him? I am not a fan of characters that practice duplicity on seemingly omnipotent levels. But I get the feeling that he was an excellent foil for the heroine.

As for the main character, Elise? Well, she was okay. She's a woman with a lot of emotional and physical baggage and her having to deal with them while trying to save the world did present some unique challenges. Was I sympathetic to her character? Not much.

I realize that this post is pretty darned negative to the story and it's probably because it's colored by my feelings - I don't enjoy stories that mess with demons and God and mix them up because I find them jarring and I want to argue about their misrepresentation.

All that being said, I believe it's true that this story will actually appeal to many paranormal romance readers because they more than likely can let this kind of stuff roll off their backs and take it with a grain of salt. If the book entertains them, then it's all good. There are other things that go on, dialogue, descriptions and environment that were well written and made the book easy to read.

At least I did give it a try. I did read the entire book to give it a chance to wow me. It just came up against this mental line in the sand and it's not until I read a story like Sacrificed in Shadow that I'm reminded that I actually have one. I'm pretty lenient on a lot of things, I've even read some M/M and BDSM books, (NO, not 50 Shades), and I'm not a fan of zombies At.All. But if I had to choose to read a book that twists my belief system or zombies, I'll read the zombie book.

I'm still in process of reading the rest of the Magic After Dark anthology book, but this bothered me enough to vent and the only place I can do that is on my blog.

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