Ruth's Reviews > The Restorer

The Restorer by Sharon Hinck
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Feb 06, 09

Read in August, 2007

Susan, a mother of four, is suffering from major burn-out. Although she loves her family with every fiber of her being, somewhere along the way she lost sense of identity in meeting the constant demands of being a busy wife and mother. Desperate to reconnect with her faith and longing for a sense of purpose she lost long ago, her husband Mark builds her a secret "hideaway" in the family attic, a place totally Susan's own, off limits to everyone but her. She barely settles in for her first quiet time when Susan finds herself abruptly thrust into an alien world where she witnesses a terrifying (and deathly) sword fight. Lost in an foreign land filled with customs and technology totally unknown to her, Susan struggles to survive and adapt to new powers, including the ability to heal from any injury, whether a bruise or a cut, almost instantaneously. This power marks Susan as a potential Restorer, deliverers the One promises to send to fight for the people in times of great need and to turn hearts back to the Verses. Susan struggles with coming to terms with this new identity, for how can she hope to help people hungry for deliverance when she feels so hopelessly out of her element, lost, and inadequate?

Hinck's previous novels, The Secret Life of Becky Miller and Renovating Becky Miller hinted at her ability to write compelling fantasy, as each chapter of those books began with one of Becky's delightful "dream" sequences. In The Restorer, Hinck delivers on the ability hinted at in her previous work by crafting a fully realized, enthralling fantasy. While the world Susan is sent to is utterly foreign, what makes the land, the people, and Susan's struggle so compelling are Hinck's rich characterizations. And this is where Hinck's success as a novelist lies - while all of her novels to date can be classified as "mom lit" because the protagonists are suburban mothers, Hinck crafts her characters in such a way that they are not "just" moms. In The Restorer, Susan's spiritual journey and quest to realize God's purpose for her life transcends the "mom lit" label and makes her a universally relatable heroine.

The Restorer is one of the most well-written, engaging entries in the burgeoning genre of Christian speculative fiction that I've come across in some time. Hinck reveals herself as a force to be reckoned with in the genre, expertly balancing the strange and fantastic with genuine, relatable spiritual struggle and character growth. I particularly liked the contrast of the Verses with the "mind poisoning" of those who would seek to have the truth silenced - it's a powerful illustration of the living nature of God's word and its ability to combat the "flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:16, NIV). The next chapter in The Sword of Lyric saga, The Restorer's Son, releases this fall.
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