Book Review | Rising Shadows

Rising Shadows
Ashley Townsend
Publisher:  Kirkdale Press
Genre:  Christian Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Time Travel
Released:  June 16th, 2012
{Goodreads}
          Sarah Matthews is nearing the end of another eventless summer in the small town of Bethany, Oklahoma, bringing her closer to the start of her freshman year of college. Disheartened over the reality that yet another unexciting season is coming to an end, Sarah wishes for an unforgettable adventure. When mysterious circumstances transport Sarah and her younger sister back in time, she gets more of an adventure than she could have ever imagined. The two sisters find themselves trapped in the twelfth century in a place shrouded with mystery and deception. Assassination plots, kidnappings, and tumultuous adventures force Sarah to rely on the Shadow, a masked hero who comes to her aid numerous times. 
          In order to uncover a conspiracy and save those closest to her, Sarah requests help from the Shadow and also from Will, the handsome and equally intriguing blacksmith she befriends. Sarah is strangely drawn to the excitement that seems to follow the town hero and begins to look forward to their secret encounters. She also finds herself caught in a romance with Will, despite the fact that their equally fiery personalities have a tendency to clash as they attempt to work together. But Will’s past is filled with secrets and pains, and Sarah finds it difficult to break through the walls he has built around him. Can the faith and love of God that Sarah exhibits in her own life cause his hardened facade to fall away as he discovers that forgiveness and mercy are never too far from reach?

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers
I was provided a copy of this novel by the author in exchange for my honest review.

{The Basics}
*cue HUGE sigh* This review is long overdue. . . 
First, this is a modern/medieval Time-Travel story!  How cool is that?  Sarah Matthews is your typical, teen, high school graduate, longing for one last Summer adventure before she heads off to college in the Fall.  Her parents are away visiting an ailing relative and she's left alone with her little sister, Lilly, who she loves dearly of course, but finds increasingly irritating.  Little did she know, however, that she would find out the true meaning of the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for."
A fierce thunderstorm brings Lilly into Sarah's room.  Sarah tries her best to be the good big sister, but is simply not in the mood to have to deal with Lilly's questions and fear of the raging storm.  The thunder and lightning seem only to increase, and, to the girls' horror, cause a kind of earthquake, which jostles them about in the little room.  They awake, literally, to a whole new world.  And the adventure is just beginning. 
{Positives}
Sarah may think her sister annoying and irritating at times, but upon being thrust into another world, her first thoughts are to help and watch over Lilly.  

{Negatives}
Quite a bit of lying amongst nearly ALL the characters.

{Spirituality}
Throughout this whole story, Sarah's relationship with God only grows.  She has always had faith in Him, but it seems this adventure serves to strengthen the bond.  She learns to rely fully on Him, and acts as a witness to Will, who has struggled with faith and trust.

{Violence}
In a recount of a character's past, his parents died in a fire, leaving him orphaned and in the care of his uncle.  One man is shot in the back with an arrow (and we're left with NO explanation as to who killed him or why exactly he was killed. . .).  A woman is kidnapped, drugged with a cloth, and drug through the woods on her back, causing serious wounds to her back.  That same woman is nearly strangled at one point, and at another is cut with a poisoned knife and nearly dies.  Another woman is taken prisoner, accused of being a witch, and threatened to be burned at the stake.

Sarah and Will are left to die, by fire, in an old shed. ({SPOILER} They escape.)

A man scales a wall, intending to do some spy work.  He narrowly misses getting caught and does pick up some bruises on his escape route, which was pretty wince-inducing. . .

{Language, Alcohol & Drugs}
None.

It's believed that the king is being poisoned by his brother.  At one point, a cloaked man overturns the goblet in question (actually, he knocks it out of the servant's hand) and disappears out a window. . .

{Love-y-ness}
Sarah is a lovely girl, which is pretty obvious by the looks she gets from the village men and the farmer boy, with whose family she's staying with.  The farmer, Seth, has feelings for her, but comes to accept she doesn't feel the same for him--they remain friends.  And we learn that Sarah's friend, Karen, likes Seth (and has for awhile).  Obvious attraction between the smithy, Will, and Sarah.  They become partners-in- . . . er, spy. . . ing.  Heheh.  

{Conclusion}
All in all, I enjoyed this story.  I love the epicness of modernity clashing with the Medieval era.  So cool!
The only thing I was disappointed in was much of the plot.  The characters were fine, each their own, but there was no resolution to the plot itself.  By the end of the tale, I felt I had so many questions left completely unanswered.  True, the story was left open for its sequel, but still. . . Each story, or mini-tale, if you will, needs some sort of resolution.  Something to give the reader a feeling of satisfaction, no matter how small.
So, Sarah returns home and goes about her life, acting like she'd never had this awesome adventure, as if her new friends never existed, and a kingdom wasn't really falling apart.  Until she hears a knock at the door. . . 
Aaaannnndd. . . the way is set for Chasing Shadows, the sequel!  :]  Again, I totally enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend to all my reading buddies.  This was just my opinion regarding the plot. 
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Recommended ages:  13-14+
My rating:

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2 comments

Christine Smith said...

Oh! I really, really enjoyed this book myself. I do agree that it ended too abruptly without enough conclusion and while the characters were great the plot felt a little lacking. But it was still a really enjoyable read.

Have you read Chasing Shadows yet? It clears up some of those loose ends and is FABULOUS. The plot gets a lot deeper in it, and the characters even more loveable. ^_^

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Yes! I agree. Our tastes are alike ^_^ And no, I've not read the sequel yet, it's--er, sort of next on my list... :D