A Book Review Day 1 — The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead
Just back from my book signing in Austin and I had time to finish up the latest book by Stephen R. Lawhead. Here is the first day of my review:
It wasn’t that long ago I accompanied my 20-something daughter to an Anime convention. I thought I knew what to expect. My daughter had talked to be at length about her fascination with Anime but this conversation did not prepare me for what awaited. Walking into the hotel/convention center in Dallas, Texas I was instantly immersed and, yes, assaulted by every sensation in the book. There was the raucous sound of heavy metal rock with Japanese singers wailing away at some song whose meaning totally escaped me. I could feel the hot, humid moisture in the air from thousands of bodies crammed into the building. I could literally taste coconut in the air from one of those scented fog machines. And the sights! Colors, faces, bodies, abnormally distorted weapons, leather, feathers, wigs, you name it. I had never seen anything quite like this. It was disturbing and quite disorienting. And, finally, there was this odd mixture of the odor of makeup, latex, leather, and body odor — I instantly dubbed “Anime funk”. I was so disoriented and confused, I hunkered down in my hotel room and made sure my daughter checked in with me every hour while I tried to ignore the confusion raging outside my door!
I bring this up because I had the same initial reaction on opening up and beginning to read Stephen R, Lawhead’s newest book, “The Bone House”. I have been waiting for the next book in the series after “The Skin Map” by Stephen R.Lawhead for a year. That book was fascinating but left me scratching my head and dangling from a cliff almost as abruptly as the time I sat in a darkened theater and watched Boba Fett fly off with Hans Solo in carbonite and realized I wouldn’t know anything for another 3 years!
Whoo! That was one long sentence. And so is the beginning of “The Bone House” by Stephen R. Lawhead. I will divide my three day book review simply into Beginning, Middle, and End. For each section of the book had a decidedly different effect on me.
First, let me say without reservation that if you have not read “The Skin Map” you will be instantly lost at the beginning of the “The Bone House”. It literally picks up right where that book left off. No preamble. No backflash. No shortened explanations. You just dive right in.
Mina, who reluctantly accompanied her boyfriend Kit through “ley” lines into parallel dimensions and ended up in Prague of 1607 was last seen in her coffee house/pastry shop having glimpsed a strange device constructed by an alchemist for the villainous, Lord Burleigh. Kit was last seen trapped in an underground treasure room of an ancient Egyptian tomb with his dead great-grandfather Cosimo and his friend, who had located the tomb where the mysterious “skin map” had been hidden only to discover it had been stolen. And, that book ended with Mina suddenly and unexplainably appearing at the locked gate to the treasure room to free Kit, who she had not seen since arriving in Prague.
Confused yet? Not if you read “The Skin Map”. But, you will be if you don’t. So, go read that book immediately or you will be totally lost. It helps that there is a prologue of sorts, “Previously” that does summarize the events of the first book. But, even reading through this and the list of characters did me little good for some of the beginning. Suddenly, we were meeting some new characters such as Archie, the orphaned bastard child of aristocracy. And, Dr. Thomas in Egypt of the 1800’s. Oh yes, and a mystical pharaoh/priest of ancient Egypt, Turms,the Immortal, the very one whose tomb Kit was subsequently locked in centuries later.
Now, don’t give up on me. Lawhead’s command of language is exquisite. The words roll along on the page like a musical melody. His descriptions of historical settings are so spot on, you can see and hear and smell all of the sensations. And, his dialogue is very witty and distinctive. It’s just there are so many characters coming back into the picture from “The Skin Map” at different locations and at different times in their lives, you can get very confused. I found it hard to keep them all straight.
But, if you stick with the story, it all begins to come together in the middle, which I will talk about tomorrow.
In summary, the beginning of “The Bone House” is a direct sequel of “The Skin Map”. I would highly recommend the reader read the first book before diving into this book. The author assumes the reader understands “ley” lines and “inter dimensional” travel and the concept of parallel universes all with striking similarities but slight differences. If the reader has not read the previous book, there will be a temptation to set the book aside and there is simply too much “magic” in this story to not enjoy this second book. It does get more understandable and all is explained in the middle of the book. Also, the spiritual “message” of this book comes to light in the middle and it is a fascinating discussion. You don’t want to miss it!
By the way, I have accompanied my daughter to 5 other Anime conventions and they no longer disturb and confuse me. I look upon them as a wonderful opportunity to explore a complex array of humanity and mine those depths for characters and stories. You should feel the same way about “The Bone House”. Enjoy and explore the complexity of this wonderful story!
Come back tomorrow and I will show you what you will miss if you turn away from the door to “The Bone House.”
Now, for all the links:
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Book link – http://www.amazon.com/dp/159554805X/
Author’s Web site – http://www.stephenlawhead.com/
http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/ Noah Arsenault
http://tessbissell.wordpress.com/“> Red Bissell
http://www.oerkenleaves.blogspot.com/“> Thomas Clayton Booher
http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com/“> Beckie Burnham
http://morganlbusse.wordpress.com“> Morgan L. Busse
http://csffblogtour.com/“> CSFF Blog Tour
http://jeffchapmanwriter.blogspot.com/“> Jeff Chapman
http://carolcollett.wordpress.com/“> Carol Bruce Collett
http://www.kcreviews.blogspot.com“> Karri Compton
http://www.scificatholic.com/“> D. G. D. Davidson
http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com/“> Theresa Dunlap
http://projectinga.blogspot.com/“> April Erwin
http://vicsmediaroom.wordpress.com/“> Victor Gentile
http://realmofhearts.blogspot.com/“> Ryan Heart<
http://fantasythyme.blogspot.com“> Timothy Hicks
http://www.christopherhopper.com/blog/“> Christopher Hopper
http://thequietpen.wordpress.com/“> Janeen Ippolito
http://thewriterssword.blogspot.com/“> Becca Johnson
http://www.spoiledfortheordinary.blogspot.com/“> Jason Joyner
http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/“> Carol Keen
http://krystisbooks.blogspot.com/“> Krystine Kercher
http://www.katie-mccurdy.blogspot.com/“> Katie McCurdy
http://www.shannonmcdermott.com/?page_id=189“> Shannon McDermott
http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/“> Rebecca LuElla Miller
http://www.bookwomanjoan.blogspot.com/“> Joan Nienhuis
http://www.chawnaschroeder.blogspot.com/“> Chawna Schroeder
http://reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/“> Kathleen Smith
http://www.mindsinger.com/“> Donna Swanson
http://www.rachelstarrthomson.com/inklings/“> Rachel Starr Thomson
http://www.epictales.org/blog/robertblog.php“> Robert Treskillard
http://christiansf.blogspot.com/“> Steve Trower
http://frederation.wordpress.com“> Fred Warren
http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/blog/“> Phyllis Wheeler
http://www.theravenquill.blogspot.com/“> Nicole White
http://finishedthebook.blogspot.com/“> Rachel Wyant
Posted on October 23, 2011, in Breaking News, My Writing, Speculative Fiction, Steel Chronicles. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
Bruce, Nice intro to a complex book. You’re spot on that sticking to reading the Bone House will begin to clarify the story. Lawhead’s multiple storylines felt to me like a grand saga that unfolds across multiple times and places. Maybe like Star Wars you have to see parts of the big picture because it’s too much to take in all at once. I liked your comparison of the two.
Absolutely! I talk about that in the second and third day reviews. I loved the book, particularly the last half.
Funny thing, Bruce, after I read the “Previously” the story came back to me so I didn’t feel confused at the beginning of this one. (My but the scene you painted does portray “confused”). But as additional characters came in and we continued to switch from one to the other, I began to have a harder time tracking with it all.
Still, as you pointed out, Mr. Lawhead’s writing paints such vivid scenes, it really was like going on a journey, one worth finishing.
As you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, things began to clear up. I ended up liking the story quite a bit more than I thought I would.
Great first post! I enjoy seeing my subtler and hard-to-place thoughts being put into words 🙂
Great review! I was actually very pleased that the only review we had of the previous book was in the Previously section. I’m not sure yet if I’ve met someone who shares my opinion, but explanations at the beginning of a second book get on my nerves. As I read the first chapters of The Bone House, more and more scenes from The Skin Map came back to me on their own. I preferred that experience. 🙂
Pingback: CSFF Blog Tour – The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead, Day 1 « A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Pingback: CSFF Blog Tour Wrap – The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead « A Christian Worldview of Fiction