The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

The Darkwater Saga, book 2
Category: epic fantasy, speculative fiction, (marketed as Christian fiction but, no way José)
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Format: advance review copy ebook (eARC)
My Rating:  3-stars

Description

Award-Winner Carr Delivers Latest in Fantasy Saga

Victory over the dark forces during the feast of Bas-solas should have guaranteed safety for the continent. Instead, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover they've been outsmarted by those seeking to unleash the evil that inhabits the Darkwater. Jorgen, the member of the Vigil assigned to Frayel, has gone missing, and new attacks have struck at the six kingdoms' ability to defend themselves.

Just when the Vigil thought they had quenched the menace from their enemy in Collum, a new threat emerges: assassins hunting the Vigil, men and women who cannot be seen until it's too late. The orders of the church and the rulers of the kingdoms, fearing the loss of the Vigil's members altogether, have decided to take them into protective custody to safeguard their gift. On Pellin's orders, the Vigil scatters, leaving Willet to be taken prisoner by the church in Bunard.

In the midst of this, Willet learns of the murder of an obscure nobleman's daughter by one of the unseen assassins. Now he must escape his imprisonment and brave the wrath of the church to find the killer in order to turn back this latest threat to the northern continent.

Review

I have taken FOREVER to write this review.  I read The Shattered Vigil months ago and have returned multiple times to write this review.  There have been many iterations and at one time my review was almost 2000 words long.  I thought that might be a wee bit excessive ;).  I can't imagine that you want to read a comprehensive treatise rather than a book review.  If you do, I would really love to meet you.

My problem is that I love this series.  It is everything that I love in a speculative fiction/epic fantasy series.  Characters with depth that I really get to know and feel passionate about… great world building… clean... full of excitement and suspense… gripping…  So what on earth is the problem?  Just one… the genre.  These books are marketed as Christian fiction.  This is the only genre that I will get cranky about (I promise).  For a book to be marketed as “Christian” it needs to meet the most basic tenets of Christianity.  Carr’s work doesn’t.  

So what does the web say that the genre Christian fiction represents?  I found that almost all of the definitions were the same.  I'm going to share two with you.  The first definition comes from WorldCat, the world's largest network of library content and services.  WorldCat states that the genre Christian fiction is

Used for works of imaginative fiction that promote Christian teachings or exemplify a Christian way of life.
— http://www.worldcat.org/genres/christian-fiction.html

The second definition is from Joshua Wimmer's lesson in his Introduction to Humanities course titled Christian Fiction: Definition, Authors & Books. Wimmer teaches that Christian fiction is

A literary genre dedicated to the narrative representation of Christian theology and ethics.
— http://study.com/academy/lesson/christian-fiction-definition-authors-books.html

Wimmer extrapolates upon the definition, saying

Despite the many and widely varied denominations of Christianity found in the world today, there are two of these principles that are fundamental to all works of Christian fiction: the divinity of Christ and the authority of Holy Scripture. Therefore, no matter what specific context (i.e., Catholic or Mormon) the author approaches the narrative from, it should at all times express the central ideas of salvation only through belief in God’s son, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Bible as God’s word and law to humanity.
— http://study.com/academy/lesson/christian-fiction-definition-authors-books.html

I post Wimmer's definition and further explanation specifically for the fact that he states that a Christian fiction story "should at all times express the central idea of salvation only through belief in God's son, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Bible as God's word and law to humanity."  (How about we avoid my thoughts on the fact that he included Catholic and Mormon in his explanation).  Those most basic tenets are not expressed in The Darkwater Saga.  (Just a reminder… take a look at the “cautions for Christians” portion of my review of The Shock of Night for further information.)  These books should be marketed as epic fantasy, leaving Christianity out of it.  I would greatly respect Patrick W. Carr if he were to take a play from Davis Bunn's playbook. Davis Bunn did it right.  When he chose to explore writing outside of the Christian fiction genre he created the pseudonym, Thomas Locke.  Under this pen name, he writes fantastic mainstream novels.  Take a look at my reviews of his books and you will see that I rave about them.  I genuinely love them. Carr doesn’t need to use a pen name, but he really shouldn’t market his books as Christian fiction.  That genre is getting more and more abused (by far too many authors).  Let’s keep it genuine folks.

-A book list and links to my reviews for the books written by Davis Bunn (primarily Christian fiction) can be found here.
-For Bunn's mainstream fiction books written under the pseudonym Thomas Locke, as well as links to my reviews, click here.  

So… I obviously read this, the second book in the series, and will likely continue to read any future books published in the series.  I love the books.  I dropped a star on the rating because of the genre issue.  I hope that the lower rating will entice people to read why I have given a lower rating.  I am shamelessly using this review as my plea for authenticity in marketing.  Truly, read these books… enjoy them... recommend them to your children… just understand that they are not Christian.

As a member of the Bethany House Blogger review program and NetGalley, I received a review copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.