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Skies of Dripping Gold Paperback – December 4, 2015
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
About the Author
Hannah Heath is an author of YA Christian Fiction. She believes that words hold a special kind of magic: They have the power to open the mind, to change the heart, to transform the world. Because of this, it is her goal to use this magic to create stories that encourage and inspire the people who read them. By writing stories with souls, she hopes to better the lives of those around her. Hannah lives in Southern California, where she is attempting to wield magic with her keyboard, read all of the books on earth, join every nerd fandom within reach, and graduate from college without driving any of her professors crazy. Sometimes she suffers horrible bouts of panic in which she thinks this may not be possible. When this happens, she takes comfort in drinking chai tea, walking on the beach, and spending time with her parents and two favorite (and only) brothers. Skies of Dripping Gold is her debut story, but she hopes to traditionally publish her YA Christian Fantasy novel, The Stump of the Terebinth Tree, just as soon as she can hook herself a literary agent.
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This short story is a raw, unflinching look at true pain and grief from a Christian perspective. It's a blend of allegory and realism, blending dystopia and the experience of the every-day man with symbolism in order to shoot straight to the heart of the topic.
For me, it's especially potent, as it deals with (spoiler alert?) a young man watching his sister suffering from a painful, fatal illness due to poison. I have felt like Gabriel more than once in the past two years, watching my mother's battle with breast cancer.
As soon as I finished this, I recommended it to a close friend and I pass that recommendation on to you. Even if you aren't a Christian, I think this book and its themes will be just as impactful.
It is very short. I was able to read it in an hour or so. Grammatically, the story is fine. The premise is maudlin, but that's not a strike against it. I have a personal preference for fully justified paragraphs instead of indented ones, so the formatting took a few pages to get used to.
I have to agree with another reviewer who said that there is a lot of "purple prose" throughout, and I thought it almost slipped into melodrama in spots, but the main reason I say I won't read it again is because I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I understood that anyone would feel angry if put in that situation, however, there was nothing in the story that made me feel the least bit connected to the main character or his sister - no sense of conflict that pushed me to read to the end, only an interest in Heath's interesting poetic writing style. I can say the setting was well developed (I could almost smell the acrid smog that oppressed the city) but I wanted/needed more character depth.
This story was not really about the dystopia, or the poison. The reader's questions about the surrounding circumstances are only answered as far as is strictly necessary to forward the plot. I didn't mind this, as I have read enough dystopian novels to easily fill in the blanks.
Instead, the story is about faith. Faith in the unseen, the unproven, the benevolent. Gabriel's struggle is painful to read, because I think many of us would feel similarly if we found ourselves in the same situation. It makes you question the strength of your own faith. Faced with hell on earth, would you stay strong in your conviction, or would you falter and lose hope.
Warning: Here there be minor spoilers.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this story was the bond between Gabriel and Lilly. Many novels these days concentrate on rivalry or animosity between siblings. In this case, it was clear that extreme adversity had fused the siblings even more tightly together. The love that they have for each other is so pure and unwavering it is inspiring.
Gabriel's literal climb up a sheer cliff was an interesting element, you were rooting for him to succeed and find what he needed at the top, but at the same time, I think that would have been a disappointing end. Instead, when he arrives and finds nothing, his agonized shouts toward a God he doesn't really believe in anymore are an emotional blow after the struggle that came before.
The end caught me off guard, I turned a page and suddenly, it was over. The reader is left to ponder what really happened, and what Gabriel will do. I was sucked in enough that I was truly ready to go down this rabbit hole. You could sell me this concept as a full length novel easily. This would also make a good part one to a serial.
However, though abrupt, I liked the open end because it put my imagination into overdrive.
Overall, this was a good read. The imagery was excellent, the characterization on point. My favorite thing about it was the character, Cole. A young man with a child-like view of the world but a similarly blind faith. It's the kind of faith we should all strive to have.
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