Official Review: The Painted Cross by Hunter Dennis

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Official Review: The Painted Cross by Hunter Dennis

Post by katiesquilts » 03 Apr 2019, 18:40

[Following is an official review of "The Painted Cross" by Hunter Dennis.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Painted Cross is Hunter Dennis's second book in the Crimson Heirloom series. I reviewed the first book in the series just over a year ago and gave it 4 stars. Out of all the books I have reviewed on this site, it was definitely one of my favorites. When I saw its sequel pop up on the review list I jumped at the chance, unwilling to let it go to anyone else.

Sometimes sequels have a hard time living up to their prequels, but this was not the case for The Painted Cross. Once again, Dennis has proved himself to be a master storyteller. As it's been quite some time since I finished the first book and there are a number of characters to keep track of, all in different times and places, I thought I was going to have to ease into it. But Dennis helpfully inserted a list of characters at the very beginning that helped jog my memory. I took notes just so I wouldn't have to flip back and forth, but ended up not needing them because these characters are so memorable! I would even go as far as to say that there is no need to remember names in this series. Dennis is such a talented author that each character has his or her own voice and an aura completely unique to themselves.

On to the story. The Painted Cross picks up right where The Crimson Heirlooms left off. Estelle wears the Cross of Nantes and is hit by the carriage of the man whose family it used to belong to. Guillaume leaves Grenoble and enters Paris to pursue his dream of becoming a writer, settling down after his rabble-rousing. Almost 50 years later, Jake is sent to Haiti by Monsieur Tyran in order to search for the lost artifacts, but fully intends to fake his own death and sneak home. Each of them finds blessings and curses in abundance.

The theme in this novel was definitely character development. I was astounded by the slow but sure changes being made in each character's thought processes. They are so realistic -- cause and effect reactions brought on by the environments the characters find themselves in. The changes in Guillaume and Estelle were especially shocking to me, personally. Estelle was my favorite character, and by the end of this book I wasn't sure how to feel about her anymore. I felt like a family member, holding love for her deep in my heart and wanting the best for her, but knowing that she was self-destructing right before my eyes. This is just more proof that Dennis is an expert in his craft, able to construct a world with lifelike characters and giving the readers front row seats throughout all the events.

I did find myself taking notes of over 10 errors throughout the book, something that I don't remember being a problem with its prequel. However, most of the errors were minor, things such as using a period when a question mark was needed, and honestly in a book with over 500 pages it's only natural that there be a few more errors than books with half that length. The errors did not affect me or my reading pace at all.

Overall, I was thrilled that The Painted Cross lived up the expectations I had after reading the first book in its series. I am thoroughly in love with all of the characters and cannot wait to see what will happen in the next book. Obviously the first book must be read before this one, but I would highly recommend both books in the series to fans of historical fiction who enjoy drama and a bit of suspense. Dennis is a master at transporting readers back in time and making them feel as if they are actually in that time period, watching the events around them take place. I have absolutely no issues giving The Painted Cross 4 out of 4 stars and will be waiting with bated breath to find out what happens next.

The Painted Cross
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Post by sri varshini303041 » 12 Apr 2019, 05:13

I know how it feels when a sequel lets you down. I am glad, that this book did not disappoint you. Character development is the spine of storytelling. if a writer gets it right, the book will be a hit. I think I might enjoy this series. Thanks for the detailed review.

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Post by ElizaBeth Adams » 12 Apr 2019, 07:04

Well-done historical fiction with great character development? Where do I sign up? This sounds like a read worth the time. It's a great sign that the author has you emotionally conflicted over the choices of your favorite character, and that you are already looking forward to the sequel. Thanks for an awesome review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 12 Apr 2019, 07:34

It's too bad there were more errors in this than the first, but I'm glad they weren't major. I love when I'm able to review the first and subsequent books in a series. Sounds like these are books worth reading. Thanks so much.
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Post by ashley_claire » 12 Apr 2019, 09:44

I like it when reviewers are able to read more than one book in a series. I feel like it gives a more accurate review of how one book flows to the next. Glad you enjoyed it and the errors didn't slow you down.

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Post by Sgim » 12 Apr 2019, 12:22

It is my first time to read this..well done thanks😊

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Post by Radiant3 » 12 Apr 2019, 17:37

The storyline sounds quite intriguing, one that will keep the reader's attention until the very end. Thank you for the great review.
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Post by reneelu1998 » 13 Apr 2019, 02:03

These book seems like a great match to its prequel. Thank you for this well-written review.
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Post by 8amaseter » 13 Apr 2019, 11:02

Its good that the author made the series enjoyable. Your review has ignitted my interest in the first series. By this, one would flow with the story.

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Post by janelwhite » 13 Apr 2019, 12:44

Thank you for that review. This book caught my eye and I was immediately curious if I would like it. I am glad to read that you are familiar with the first book in the series as well. Sounds like a good series that is well written.

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Post by kdstrack » 13 Apr 2019, 14:23

Keeping names and personalities straight after a whole year's break is high praise for the author. I like the plot and the setting of the story, so I think I'll start with the first book. Thanks for the wonderful recommendation.

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Post by Crazyreader01 » 13 Apr 2019, 15:27

This sounds like quite the story just by itself. I can't believe it's already the second part of a story. Thanks for the review, I think I'll look into this as you made it sound superb!

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Post by Prisallen » 14 Apr 2019, 11:02

This sounds like a wonderful book to read and something I would like. Do you think someone would understand what is going on, without reading the first book? Great review!

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