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A Question of Faith (Magic Incarnate Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Crystal's sixteenth birthday is mounting up to be one flavoured by truths and lies, in lieu of traditional gifts. But some revelations bring freedom only after they've brought pain. The miracle hoped for before she was conceived was not answered in the way it would thought to have been. With death often cometh life, as too it's opposing scenario. Initially hurt by sentiments of betrayal, Crystal's perception is tainted by the response to her parents request for life; but not the life she thought the miracle should've been for, or aimed toward. But with both parents infertile, one from genetics and the other from their medical treatments which killed off the part that gives life, they deemed their currency in miracles to be better spent in a manner which isn't easily understood by the young lady approaching adulthood. The devout Crystal was struggling with her faith but the truths she finds didn't set her free from this conundrum, instead they would require that she dig deep if she were to find the wisdom therein.
To follow her birthright she will need to consolidate it with a faith that erroneously portrays it as devilry. In her own mind, regardless of whether the two can coincide, she believes she must choose one by forsaking the other. Having grown up with an internalised belief in one faith, she cannot conceive how the other faith can be true. This also sets her up to prejudge the latter in only a negative light. Crystal, as too most lay people, fails to see how they can coincide, or how her faith in one was answered by the other. The greatest of revelations, those regarding her conception, were answered by a miracle from the one she wouldn't accept in her beliefs. By failing to understand this, she could not and sould grow to understand herself though. Thus Crystal's crisis, like many peoples, becomes existential, and in some ways is totally befitting a teen not far from adulthood's door.
Crystal soon learns to allow some of her instincts to lead which path to take. One such choice leads her back to where it all began. Learning the fall nature of her existence adds greater doubts to her beliefs, whilst revealing some of the flaws in the same. However, as new knowledge beckons so too does danger. Whether she had made choices that lead to the new reality now plaguing her, or not, is largely redundant. Unbeknownst to Crystal she's spent much of her life using power she did not know she possessed. Because of this, her new awareness and the nature of her existence, there are those that would, have, and are seeking to use her. New people in her life are shrouded through their deceit, and she is thus unable to pick friend from foe. If she is to avoid the future she has seen, she'll need to discern the answers to this and other questions in order to still be around at her next birthday. As the danger draws closer people will get hurt, some grievously. Her path ahead and her faith will be tested most assuredly, for there has never been another like her.
As she and those who would support and protect her have their sights in one direction the danger will come from another. The truth of this will force Crystal to evaluate even more of her beliefs. Just as she realises it would be wrong for people to blame her for the manner of her birth, she too blames a person for who their father is; and why they've come to her small town. Its settles in her mind that if she can no more blame her parents for how she came to be born, then nor the decisions her aunt made in keeping the truth concealed. But as to the lies told by those responsible for her conception, a grudge is forming. It seems for every dilemma she reaches an acceptable conclusion for, new arise from the understanding they bring. Can a girl born of magic accept her faith is valid, and that the two aren't exclusive; or will she be forced to give away the old in favour of the new: ajd vice versa.
As human existence is wont to examine its meaning humans are less inclined to consolidate the information present in various beliefs. That life questions must be black or white before they can be accepted seems to be the bane of our lives. That each must be divorced due to imagined irreconcilable differences appears to taint the possibility of a holistic belief that encompasses all of the possibilities of creation. Faith, science, magic and the like have plagued the philosophies of life since each first reared their head. Can science and magic exist within the same beliefs; can God and science do the same; can God and magic exist at the same time? The dichotomous nature of human understanding prevents the three from having meaning within the same system at the same time. Its assumed time and again that only one or the other can exist at any one time. One of the advantages of fantasy is that its possible to write lore where all three can exist at one time without any having to be the winner as if the stakes are do or die.
Why is it that to believe in science, faith or magic prevents the belief in any other. Proponents of one will fight to the death to adhere to a black and white world. Perhaps for argument's sakes magic created life and life created God and science in order to understand it's existence. Perhaps God created life and gave humans science and magic to understand their place in the world. Perhaps science and evolution spawned life and it in turn looked to magic and God to understand how it came about. Perhaps the ultimate questions therefore become not what creation assures exclusively, but whether they can all exist at the same time regardless of contradictions; what if the contradictions are no more than a sympton of our inability to conceptualise them correctly.
Its important to understand and remember that throughout life we make mistakes and that they do not exclusively define who we are, there are other things that lead to the whole of our lives. Therefore its ok to believe they can all exist at the same time and that if that's not right, we've broken no cardinal sins. On the road to discovery its necessary to be wrong if we are to continue learning. Its only when, through our mistakes, we allow those mistakes to rule behaviour by failing to learn. History is flooded by terrible accounts of when humans have refused to learn and change, only to save face. Perhaps the problem exists not in the total of what can exist but is instead in the way we define them. A Question of Faith, Magic Incarnate is the path of one girl's life and whether she can consolidate the forces of belief that pull at her life; and better still its wrapped up in a great story that prompts you to think.
And if the existential flavour of the book fails to elicit enjoyment and intrigue, you can always fall back on the millennia old fued that leads to the war between the two main opponents of magical rites. The witches and shamans have been on opposite sides for the last two thousand years. Add the witch hunters and their hunting dogs into the cauldron and you have a spell ripe for action, suspense, kidnapping and murder. The rich cocktail of elements readers expect from urban fantasy are delivered along with the in depth examination of the forces of life and the role of magic and faith in humanity. An inspiring storyline that gains much momentum as it progresses toward an inevitable confrontation brought about by two lovers' desperation for the spark of creation before their lifes are expended so that magic incarnate could be born.
Additionally, anytime the topic of religion becomes the focal point of a book there is a risk that the reader will assume that there is a particular message or lesson that is the true agenda and intent from writer to reader. At no time in the entire book did I feel that applied here.
It takes skill, grace, dexterity and talent to tackle what can be the often divisive topics of religion and magic. Ms. Zoltack proves that she is capable of so doing with aplomb.
Crystal is a young girl who doesn't take well to the secret she discovers about herself. All the supporting characters are very likable, I hope to get to know them better in the next book. In this one they all seemed to be a small part of the story.
I have always been drawn to the magical world and the supernatural.