Monday, July 14, 2014

Reader's Review: "Abiding Flame" by Pauline Creeden



"Darkness can be overcome…

"Terminally ill Lynette Lamb is forced to reunite her wayward son and grandson. Her options are as limited as her strength and mobility. Through a fateful series of events, the rejoined pair will leave Earth to become part of a colony orbiting a new planet. Sam Austin and his wife mourn the loss of their only child and decide to make a fresh start at the space station. The same ship holds the one who will fulfill the dark planet’s prophecy, but a demonic force boards to stop the vessel. The demon’s obedient but unwilling servant is sent on a suicide mission to keep the ship from reaching its destination.
" (from Amazon.com)



 
5.5/5 Stars!
A space cruiser on its way to a distant space station filled with people desiring a change of pace? Typical setting for a sci-fi novel.
The additional explanation that the trip is part of negotiations with the alien race that provided the technology? Again, not all that unexpected.
The further reveal of a character afflicted by a demon? Hey, that's new!

Creeden gives her sci-fi novel a decided supernatural twist that fashions something totally new, an element of unexpected that rejuvenates the genre and gives predictability the slip. What might have begun as merely a sociological case study and an exercise in character development (no doubt spawned by the prompt: "put x amount of characters in a room and see how they react") turns into a life-or death race as one of the passengers carries a destiny that the demon is desperate to sabotage —even to the point of destroying the ship and all its passengers to make that happen. Friendships are tested, presumptions challenged, and most of all, I appreciate the very real way Creeden's characters react and interact on matters of Christianity. It only toed the line on "preachifying" once, very late in the book, but she keeps the dialogue flowing naturally and instead of merely talking about spiritual things, we witness lives lived in light of the belief in Jesus—to contrast with the poor soul in the clutches of the demon, or the characters who don't really believe anything and so are susceptible to every influence, the good and the bad, till one of them takes hold.

As far as the "five categories" are concerned, "Abiding Flame" receives full marks on all fronts:
Premise, for the original twist on a standard context.
Characters, for her host of realistic and distinct cast of "real people" who are neither too static nor too extreme. Each has their own unique back-story and purpose for revealing different perspectives on the circumstances--and the demon's perspective is most chilling of all.
Dialogue, for conversational lines that flowed easy and kept a logical progression. I appreciate dialogue that is informative without being blatantly expository.
The Plot-line also followed a reasonable progression, nicely paced—in fact, it was because of the changes I could see happening in the characters that I wanted to keep reading to see how things played out.
Finally, the Resolution that answered some mysteries while leaving others open; at least the central conflicts were resolved, giving the reader hope for others. 
And I would like to award bonus points for the inventive title that at first glance has nothing to do with the apparent story... But the more I thought about it, and the more I read, the more I understood it. (You'll just have to read it, too, and find out!)


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