Thank you Rose Scheckler. You can find more Reviews of The Apostle: Destiny on amazon here.
I enjoyed this book. While The Apostle: Destiny was a bit darker than I usually like my fantasy novels, I realize that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve lived a bit of a sheltered life. The family at the center of the story (the Edens), as well as many of the characters in some way or other, suffer some painful trials and issues that are all too gritty, harsh, and tragically relatable, especially in our modern world. Having said that, I identified a lot with the Eden’s daughter, Mercy, with her hopeful and optimistic outlook and her enduring faith in those she loves, as well as her high level of intelligence which alienates her from others her age, and even from some adults. I initially couldn’t see any flaws in her character, that is until I saw her through the eyes of some of the other characters. It gave me cause to reflect on myself and wonder if maybe I have some character flaws I’m not aware of.
I found the Prologue to be a bit awkward as it is written in first person, present tense, and the rest of the novel is in past tense and third person omniscient point-of-view, but I suppose that was a style choice that may not have bothered others. It seems meant to be a fun little introduction to the tale and its setting, but to me it came off as glib and a bit ingratiating or even cloying, especially considering the darker tone of the main body of the book. Rather than bringing me into the story, it had the effect of making it more difficult to get into. It bombarded me with story elements that I felt somehow I was supposed to remember, rather than introducing those elements organically in the context of the story. In fairness, those same elements are introduced again in the main book and upon rereading the prologue later, I found that it hadn’t mattered that I had forgotten most of the characters and settings it took me through. The epilogue has a similar tone which again pulled me out of the narrative and hit me over the head with the fact that I had simply been reading a work of fiction.
In between those two points, and after staring off a bit slow with the expository set up, the story kept me engaged and turning pages. I read it in less than two days, as I deeply wanted to see how the prophecy spoken of at the beginning of the book was going to come to pass. Of course this turned out to be the first book in a series (which I should have realized from the title) and so I’m still waiting for an answer to that question, but the world and the characters I discovered in the meantime were rich and engaging, the story full of mystery and intrigue. There is obviously much more afoot in the Red Kingdom than was fully addressed in this one book, and while I still yearn to see resolution for the Eden family, I also find myself wondering what the heck is really going on here.
I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the environment, particularly the different woods used in construction of buildings and furnitures, and the various qualities of workmanship. I don’t know why I took note anytime the author talked about woodwork, but it became something fun for me to notice. I didn’t particularly enjoy reading about the parched, drought-ridden, and dusty environment the story took place in, but chalk that up to the fact that I live in the California desert, that we have a drought on right now, and that the author’s realistic descriptions of such conditions hit home in an unenjoyable way for me. That, then, is actually a compliment to the author rather than a criticism.
I’m sure the author already knows where he is taking his story, but I can’t help but conclude my comments with my hopes for what I’d like to see. I find the title character extremely unlikable (as was, I’m sure, the author’s intention) and I long to see this mysterious doom-saying prophecy fulfilled in some unexpected way that softens the blow of it. Perhaps the boy destined to become the Apostle becomes more sympathetic somehow and defies the measure of his destiny. Perhaps we learn he is just as awful as he is expected to be, but somehow the circumstances demand it and he is turns out to be a hero after all. Or perhaps the firstborn turns out not to be the child of prophecy, but one of his siblings is instead (or perhaps even all of them together) and the interpretation of the prophecy changes accordingly. Whatever happens, I certainly look forward to reading all about it.