She didn’t like it. After having read one of the other books in the series, I was certain she would love The Blue Cloak. But Mom had strong opinions on the book–it didn’t make sense, she said. The crime spree had no impetus, as far as she could see. And several other elements bothered her.
These surprised me. After all, my mom is used to reading secular fiction without concern for content. So when she didn’t like a book I had been anxiously looking forward to, I wondered what I’d think. Would I like it?
I am here to tell you…
I don’t know.
See, I knew this review was due today. I was so looking forward to reading it last night. I’d sit on the new sofa at the Lighthouse, kick back, put on some lovely music, and read.
So, I got down to the Lighthouse, made a couple of videos for my publisher, and then went to retrieve the book. I hadn’t brought it. It was at home in my bedroom on the shelf.
But when I went home to get it… it wasn’t there on the shelf after all. It’s still in my mother’s room–you know, that place where she’s asleep even as I write this.
I have this thing. When I can’t find a book I’ve agreed to review, or I leave one at home, I tend to just go buy it. After all, I requested this thing–gave my word that I’d have a review up by today. I’m not required to, by law, but my word does mean something to me. Sigh.
I went to buy the book. The Kindle version is over 12.00. Ouch. I couldn’t bring myself to spend just sixty-five cents less than it would have cost me to buy a paperback–a paperback I already own.
So, for now, my review is this. I have been looking forward to this book for months. My mother, who likes stories like this, didn’t–like it, I mean. I’m even more eager to read it now, but my conviction of how much I’ll like it isn’t there anymore. We’ll see.
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And Having Read It, I Know Even Less
Some books are crazy easy to review. You immediately connect with the protagonist, love to hate the villain, and are drawn into the story like nobody’s business. Easy peasy.
The Blue Cloak, however, left me staring at the book, not knowing how to respond. I usually follow Amazon’s old rubric of “loved it, liked it, okay, didn’t like it, hated it.” That doesn’t work for this one. I didn’t like the book, but the author did her job well. You see, I don’t think anyone should like this book. Some books are like that, you know?
Especially since this is the story of true crime–real people who died in senseless, horrifying ways simply because two men felt like it.
I can’t compare this book to the others in the series. It’s not right to compare one book to another. Each book needs to stand on its own merit, and this one has a lot going for it.
For the most part, the writing is solid. Ms. McNear made people I wish hadn’t lived come alive on the page. That takes skills. On the other hand, the characters she created are necessary to the story, but I always felt like they didn’t let me in.
Still, that might be a good thing, actually. I mean, we’re talking about characters who have seen the brutality of mankind at its worst, fear for their friends, and fear for their own lives in trying to put a stop to heinous crimes. What felt like the desire for more from them might just be genius.
So, yeah. I can’t say I like this book.
But that leaves the question of did the author tell the story she was given to tell well? Considering I dreaded turning every page that deal with the horrible Harp men, I’d say she did. If it hadn’t been true crime, I would have considered the glee the men displayed with each killing to be way over the top. Instead, she actually managed to draw hope from me–hope that the younger Harp might have repented eventually.
One thing Ms. McNear definitely demonstrated was that brutality begets brutality. It’s an ugly, ugly thing.
in the end, I’ll say this. Ms. McNear did a good job of showing the horror of those years and the senselessness of their crimes. She took the crime she chose to expose and made us feel the horror of that era, the hopelessness of the women trapped in such a terrible life, and the relief when it all ended. And she did it well.
But again, no. I didn’t like the book. by the old rubric, that should mean a 2-star rating, but that’s not right. The Blue Cloak is better than that. So, this doesn’t follow my usual grading scale. I’m saying four because I can’t decide if the created characters are done crazy well or if they leave something wanting. I just don’t know.
Book: The Blue Cloak
Author: Shannon McNear
Genre: Christian Historical/Suspense
Release Date: March, 2020
Evil Incarnate Leaves a Trail of Destruction across the Frontier
Book 5 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History
Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence in 1797 at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend Sally Rice’s wedding only to watch the marriage dissolve into horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin Micajah become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims.
How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?