Dayla's Reviews > The Brandywine Prophet

The Brandywine Prophet by Jake Vander Ark
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Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7

I received a copy for review

Jake Vander Ark's latest novel in his Blank Canvas Series, The Brandywine Prophet, is the first adult novel I've read by him. Eye-opening, occasionally unnerving, and with a disturbingly intriguing protagonist, Vander Ark's latest is an exploration of the dangers of creativity and the human existence. Written in a near-omniscient style, yet maintaining William, the protagonist, as the main focus of the novel, The Brandywine Prophet is an interesting little book.

The novel is laced with the occasional red herring. Whereas other novels may adopt the use of red herrings, they are very rarely as effective as Vander Ark's false leads and spoilers. The reader will think that s/he knows everything there is to know about the story. Heck, s/he might even think that the story is predictable.

Wrong.

The beauty of red herrings is that they are rarely used, which I find tends to lull the reader into a false sense of security. I love that Vander Ark uses the possibility of having a slightly predictable novel and turns it into something completely unpredictable.

This unpredictability helps the characters grow or wither (depending on their situations) effectively. The reader often learns truths and falses as the characters do. Most importantly though, the reader sees how characters bond, or fall apart thanks to Vander Ark's somewhat sadistic twists and turns. And I mean that as a compliment, since he obviously has a great grasp of what makes his characters tick.

The two negatives that I could not ignore in The Brandywine Prophet, however, was the occasional lack of editing, and the sometimes slow pace of the story. Though definitely a book to read if you've read Vander Ark's previous works in this series, I found the editing to be weaker than in his other novels and the story was a bit harder to get into.

But keep in mind: once the story picks up, it doesn't relent--in fact, the slow pacing mostly occurs in the first half of the novel. If you stick with the story until the pivotal point where William's world begins to fall apart, you will be pleasantly surprised.

As always, Vander Ark's prose is beautiful. His descriptions, metaphors, dialogue, and poignant observation of a disturbed and artistic mind is what the reader should keep an eye on.

The story itself, though very complicated at times, tells the reader that not everything is as it seems. Religion is shown as a savior for some, but as the destruction of others. The topic of God is introduced, it is pursued, questioned, abandoned--but it is never forced.

Vander Ark's latest is as much a contemporary fiction piece as it is an existential examination--if we put aside the obvious dark themes of the novel. If you've enjoyed The Accidental Siren and Lighthouse Nights, then you should consider giving The Brandywine Prophet a shot.
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Reading Progress

10/25/2012 page 43
11.0%
10/30/2012 page 190
52.0% "Pretty good so far!"
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