Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Hour Before Dawn [Review]

Title: The Hour Before Dawn
Author: Penelope Wilcock
Labels: Adult Fiction | Historical | Biographical
Publisher: Crossway
Contains: Mature content
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Buy It: Crossway | Amazon | Book Depository

My Rating: File:Star½.svg
Blurb: A moving story about grief and healing unfolds in an English countryside monastery as the beloved brothers of St. Alcuin discover new depths of God’s grace and restoration.
          Once again, author Penelope Wilcock reaches back through the centuries to the ancient monastery of St. Alcuin. Abbot John is undergoing deep, emotional shock after learning of the rape of his sister and murder of his mother; Father William is discovering his own vulnerability; and there, immersed in the daily routine of simple tasks, the brothers undertake the greatest task of nurturing the grace of God in their souls.
          Book 5 in the recently continued The Hawk and the Dove series, The Hour before Dawn explores the psychological impact of grief and trauma as well as how one can be healed. Wilcock deftly weaves themes of the resurrection and ascension throughout the story, exploring the process of having survived suffering, but not yet having moved on. Characters eagerly await the coming dawn of restoration. Based on solid historical research, Wilcock’s representation of monastic life is authentic, rich with poetic prose and a sense of time and place.
          The Hour before Dawn affirms our need for one another’s understanding and love as well as our need for a personal relationship with Jesus. Wilcock’s newest story helps readers understand the grieving process, make connections between the Bible and everyday life experiences, and nurture an attitude of understanding and kindness.
          Not going to lie - I was pretty disappointed with this fifth book in the Hawk and the Dove series. I've read all four of the other books in this series and enjoyed them; sadly the trend went spiraling downward by the time I had finished The Hour Before Dawn.

          While the characters remained relatable, it was the plot I found to be lacking in my tastes. The majority of the plot centers around newly installed Abbot John's sister, Madeleine, who at the very beginning of the book is accused of being a witch and is brutally raped. John and Madeleine's mother is killed during the incident, and the home Madeleine and her mother share is torched. What killed me was the graphic telling of this incident. There was just way to many details, and I really didn't need that mental image stuck in my photographic mind. There were a few other graphic incidents, but I won't mention them for the sake not spoiling it for potential readers. 

          The last fourth of the book was better, as the characters began to reconcile and move past their own personal trials to get on with life. Still, I thought the apparent speed at which Madeleine began to act like her old self a tad unbelievable. After everything that had happened, you would think it would take longer to recover. All in all, I wasn't impressed with The Hour Before Dawn. I'll still keep an eye out for the sixth book, due to be published sometime in 2012, I hope it'll have a better plot line than the 5th did.

          I received a free galley of this book from Crossway and Netgalley for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review.

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