3 out of 4 stars
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Jamie E. Kirby's In Search of Sanctuary is a fiction story that, through its characters, explores finding God's purpose in our lives.
The story centers around Aiden and Shamus, people who have experienced the ugliness of New York City and just survived a massacre of all their friends and family at the hands of a notorious gang led by Mac. This horrible experience means that they have to flee for their lives, as Mac religiously keeps to his idea of leaving no witnesses. Aiden is left with a baby she rescued from the massacre, while Shamus, who does not know Aiden survived, has only his love for art to live for. Leaving America means that they are safe, but there is a void left by those they lost that desperately needed filling. Meanwhile, Mac changes his name to Kieran Mackenzie and hopes to start a new life outside America where he will be rich and powerful. With Kieran on his journey to achieving his goals, will Aiden and Shamus ever be safe? Will Aiden and Shamus ever meet each other again, and will they be able to find happiness and discover their purpose after all that happened?
The story is set in the late 1890s, as we journey through New York, Boston, Dublin, Paris, and London with the characters. The author does a wonderful job of capturing the feel of that era. My favorite part of the book is the number of strong messages the author includes throughout the story that raise a lot of thought-provoking questions. Besides seeing the characters try to find their purpose, there are themes of love, forgiveness, and the role evil can play in bringing good people together. The story is heavy on Christian references, which I felt tied the story together perfectly. However, this means that the book may not be suited to readers of other religions.
Furthermore, the book is full of suspenseful scenes that will keep readers on the edge of their seats throughout. From the beginning of the story with the massacre, when I was worried about the main characters' safety, to worrying about another encounter with Kieran, there was never a dull moment. I also encountered several other characters, who were later friends of Aiden and Shamus, that added some excitement to the story.
Unfortunately, most of the characters lacked depth and had a lot of similar traits. It seemed like the author focused more on the plot, as I didn't get to know much about most of the characters' personalities. I would have appreciated a look into the main characters' weaknesses or something that would have challenged their morals, but they seemed perfect. I did enjoy Kieran's character, however. Knowing where he came from, seeing his mindset as someone that wanted to achieve big things, and following his calculative nature were intriguing. I also noticed some growth in his character as the story progressed.
All things considered, I enjoyed reading In Search of Sanctuary. It seems the book is the first book in a series, but it had a satisfying ending that answered all my questions. The book also imparts a lot of useful lessons, and it is professionally edited. I rate this novel 3 out of 4 stars. The lack of character depth is the only reason I am not giving the maximum rating. I would recommend this book to Christians that enjoy suspenseful novels, books about self-discovery, and historical fiction.
In Search of Sanctuary
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