Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Angel's Den, by Jamie Carie

Set in Missouri in the 1800’s, Angel’s Den opens at the wedding of Emma and Erik. Before she can blink, Emma realizes that she is getting more than she bargained for with her beautiful husband, and that his beauty is surface only. When he plans to lead an expedition west to follow in the footsteps of Louis and Clark, Erik demands Emma accompany him, so that he can maintain control over her life. Little does he realize that with the influence of the expedition’s cartographer, Luke, Emma will forfeit the control of her life to someone far more powerful than Erik; instead, she will submit to God. But what will Erik do?

As soon as I picked up Angel’s Den, I knew this would be a book unlike anything I had ever read. First of all, the setting of Missouri in 1808 was utterly foreign to me. I remembered very little from my high school history classes regarding exploration of the ever expanding West, so I feared it would be difficult for me to get into the story. My fear was completely unfounded. Jamie Carie weaves a story so intricate that the reader becomes fully immersed in the setting, with no need for prior experience of the time and place. Not only is the historical detail enough to engulf the reader, the characters are also so fully developed that one has difficulty putting the book down.

From her first clumsy stumble, my heart ached for Emma, and I sensed she was in for a struggle throughout the story. As the plot unfolded, I felt fiercely protective of her, and understood exactly how Luke would come to feel for her later. I must confess, I had a love-hate relationship with the character of Erik; I knew he was necessary for the story, and loved the fact that his actions led the story as it did, but I hated the pain he inflicted, and the ugliness I could see as a reader that the other characters seemed to overlook (it caused me to be frustrated with the supporting characters more than once).

The theme of redemption is so strong throughout this book. Several characters redeem themselves, to loved ones, to each other, to God. Even Erik is given a chance at redemption, and while the outcome of his decision was surprising, I found it fitting that Jamie chose to handle it the way she did.

There are rough, difficult topics covered in this story- abuse, rape, adultery, murder, prostitution. However, even the most difficult topic is handled in the appropriate manner, and is in no way salacious. This book would even be appropriate for more mature young adults, in their late teens. I thoroughly enjoyed Angel’s Den, and look forward to reading more works by Jamie Carie.

A free review copy was provided courtesy of the Christian Review of Books in exchange for my honest opinion.