1 out of 4 stars
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God's Storehouse of the Deep: A John Michael Saga by John Garvin Clarke is an adventure novel with religious and romantic elements, the first in the saga. It follows John Michael, a wealthy and adventurous archeologist who seeks to prove the existence of the Exodus Red Sea path of Moses. After a failed attempt that almost cost him his life, he begins to consider a new approach to achieve his mission from the sea, for which he acquires an exploration vessel.
On his journey, John will meet several people who will help him in his mission, including Natasha, an exotic and strong woman who will take over his heart. But his goal will be jeopardized when his ship, the Red Sea Princess, is attacked by pirates, his crew ending up amid a war between intelligence services and terrorist organizations. For the closer John is to discover the Red Sea path, the tougher it becomes for him to reach his goal.
The book flows at a confusing pace. At first, it appears to be a treasure hunt story. But halfway through it, it ends up becoming a sort of political thriller. The attacks that the Red Sea Princess suffers from pirates associated with terrorism become the center of the conflict instead of the original quest. While these thriller elements are the most interesting part of the story, they feel forced into the plot to generate tension and extend the duration of the text, at the risk of making the reader forget about the main storyline.
This novel is told almost exclusively from the point of view of the protagonist. His characterization is poor, many of his internal conflicts expressed in exaggerated dialogues that can remind the reader of some work by Shakespeare. The secondary characters, with the exception of his love interest, are very little developed. Their characterization is limited to their backstories, and their appearance in the book always coincides with a particular need of the protagonist.
The writer's prose is second-rate. It mixes segments of pleasant fluidity with choppy and poorly developed phrases. Additionally, the book has its fair share of technical language, especially around historical events and the Bible. Although the knowledge of these aspects is important so that the reader does not get lost in the plot, its level of exposition is such that it manages to fill entire lines of dialogues on its own.
As for the editing work, it is mediocre at best. Even if there are no typos, there are a lot of missing commas, incorrectly placed periods, absent double quotation marks in dialogues, and some sentences written in the present tense. There are also some issues with the formatting of hyphens and dashes.
In the end, my reading experience of this book turned out to be frustrating. The characters and the setting fail to convince. The plot is interesting at times, but the thriller elements feel like a stand-alone book on their own instead of a secondary plot. The building of the action scenes is attractive, but their resolution proves brief and unsatisfactory.
The writing and the editing work were merely the straw that broke the camel's back, which is why I am forced to give it 1 out of 4 stars. For those who choose to read the book anyway, I have to emphasize that it has a marked and almost exclusively Christian view of several historical and sociocultural aspects.
God's Storehouse of the Deep
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