Until The Dawn
written by Elizabeth Camden
368 pages // published in 2015 // Christian fiction // Victorian time period
Amazing book in the Christian historical fiction genre!
I like this book a lot. Being my first time to read Elizabeth Camden, she definitely impressed me with her knowledge of the historical time period and depth of interesting characters. And I have a lot to say about the book...
This isn't your average Christian fiction novella. It is complex in composition and has intense family drama (from generations back!) which consequently affects the lives of those in this story, in 1898. (This really drives the point home that what you accomplish and the kind of people you associate with now, certainly affects where your great-great-great-grandchildren might live or what they'll end up doing with their lives.) Deeeep!
Sophie van Riijn, at twenty-six, (who could have been married 3 times over, with each relationship flopping) is a volunteer for the Weather Bureau, a government agency still in its infancy. She revels in the fact that by dutifully taking measurements and calculations from her rooftop weather station every day for the Bureau, she's providing a special service for her country. The bounds of weather are still being discovered; in fact, to find weather predictions in the newspaper is such a new (and helpful) idea. If anything, Sophie wants to make the world around her better, and is even interested in bringing a full climate observatory to Hudson River Valley for jobs -- if only the government would notice what a faithful attendant Sophie is.
I loved this part of the story >> Around the 1890s, people were still figuring out just how to predict weather. New tools and meters had been invented just for this purpose, and a very helpful purpose it was. The entire nation could benefit from knowing that a snowstorm was occurring in the Midwest, while the rain keeps pouring in the South. It's so different how people tracked weather systems back a hundred years ago, and that it could possibly even be a novelty for citizens -- the government couldn't even post meteorologists in every city, and had to rely on thousands of volunteers to manage their best in delivering accurate readings.
Sophie grew up in the Vandermark's mansion, it could be said. She's not an employee of the family, and lives with her father back in town. But through all the years that the rich Vandermarks left their Hudson River Valley property, Sophie was there anyways, cherishing the paradise on its grounds. So it comes as a great shock when the Vandermarks return with plans for Dierenpark -- to demolish it! The plot can only thicken after that, as buried secrets come forth. For generations, some have believed Dierenpark to be tainted by a curse -- a direct effect of the assumed murder that took place after the original Vandermarks immigrated to New York. Many tragedies seem to have dogged each generation since then, and who knows what will be dug up before the story is fully told?
Cons? There's barely any, as I love this book truly. But it does seem like the author has a few "pet" words that she likes to use. Re-use. And re-use, several times.
Lastly, one other thing I loved -- a true religious battle. So much of Until the Dawn relies on the existence of God vs. other religions and atheism. This intellectual quest even comes down to the Vandermarks hiring biologists and archaeologists to solve the mysteries that cannot be figured out alone...
There's definitely a Victorian gothic appeal in this book -- a shadow of darkness covering the pages. But one needs darkness in a story like this, to contrast the brightness of the forthcoming light...
This is adult fiction -- although it's certainly a clean read, I'd personally recommend it for older teens and adults.
Overall? I love Until the Dawn. Can't wait to read another one from Camden.
Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.
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