4 out of 4 stars
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Thirteen-year-old Ben is running an errand for his father when he meets Cyrus Eblis, a creepy old man who seems to know him well. To put some distance between them, Ben flees to Lynn, where he becomes an apprentice at a shoe manufacturer. Much to his horror, Cyrus is hot on his trail. When bad things start happening around him, Ben must rely on his faith, wits, and best friends to battle the powerful demon that is hell-bent on destroying everyone Ben has ever cared about.
I found the premise in The Soles of Cyrus Eblis by Mark Macedonia intriguing, and I knew I would be in for a wild ride. Soul-stealing demons in a historical Salem set in the 18th century, a young hero fighting an unspeakable evil, and wicked witches are the main ingredients in this fast-paced story. The author successfully combined historical fantasy with Christian fiction, and I was utterly engrossed in the 500-page novel until the satisfying last sentence.
I enjoyed the author’s descriptive language matching the vocabulary of the 18th century. From the first few pages, I was among the people in Salem, Massachusetts, watching them make ends meet with their trade, listening to pirate stories told by an old sailor, and basking in the bright autumn colors while walking on the narrow path in the woods. For a few moments, I was Benjamin Pratt, reliving those early decisive years. When the bell-man was going around the town announcing “Ten o’clock and all’s well,” I was in that old house without modern appliances, surrounded by the voice of a man comforting people to peacefully turn in for the night.
The story and descriptions were quite entertaining, but the characters made the strongest impact on me. From that timid and skeptic 13-year-old boy, Ben turned into a young man who slowly learned his real place in the world. He was surrounded by friends who strengthened his faith in God and helped him battle despicable creatures. Samantha, the young girl Ben fell for, Rachel, the disabled girl who helped him reconnect with God, and Caleb, his cousin, formed the major archetypes familiar to most readers. As a non-religious reader, I found the detailed Bible-reading segments with Ben and Rachel slightly uncomfortable. However, as I’ve never attended a Bible study session, those pages gave me a quick overview of what I could expect in such a setting.
In terms of editing, I only noticed a few mistakes in the book. A few missing hyphens, a wrong subject-verb agreement, and some missing commas formed the bulk of the errors. As such, I give The Soles of Cyrus Eblis 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers of historical supernatural fiction with a dash of religion where good and evil are in constant battle. Non-religious people and those of other faiths might shy away from the chapters featuring detailed religious discussions and Bible quotes.
The Soles of Cyrus Eblis
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