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Monday, July 7, 2008

The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing The Edge Of Recall (Bethany House July 1, 2008) by Kristen Heitzmann.


Of her three main interests, art, music and writing, she chose to study English at the University of Colorado and thrived on Creative Writing and Literature classes. She married her husband Jim, and turned her energy to building a family. They have four children whom they have home schooled for all or most of their education. Kristen is a music minister with the ecumenical covenant community People of Praise.

Once she realized the stories in her head were truly a calling from the Lord, she made writing not just a passion, but a ministry. She has written seven historical fiction novels as part of the The Rocky Mountain Legacy series, the Diamond of the Rockies series, and the Christy Award winner Secrets. Most recently, she has written several contemporary fiction novels, including Echoes, Freefall and Unforgotten.

Kristen and her husband, Jim, and their family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she serves as worship leader in their church.


Tessa Young, an up-and-coming landscape architect who specializes in the design and creation of labyrinths, has immersed herself in the mythological, spiritual, and healing aspects of the elaborate structures. She also is searching for God and hoping to make sense of the nightmares that have plagued her since childhood.

When Smith Chandler, an estranged colleague--with whom she'd half fallen in love a dozen times before catching herself every time--calls to propose a project he claims is the opportunity of a lifetime, she reluctantly agrees to check it out. Smith is reconstructing a pre-Revolutionary War abbey for wealthy clients. Among its remarkable features is an overgrown labyrinth.

Unable to resist, Tessa accepts his offer to work with him. Soon she is immersed in the project of a lifetime. But one evening, after weeks of work in the labyrinth, Tessa and Smith are attacked. While protecting Tessa, Smith is stabbed, and the nightmare begins...again.

If You would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.

My Review

This novel offers a fun, engaging plot and a fascinating character in Tessa. I really liked how the author wove the idea of labyrinths into Tessa's character, and being a designer like her is definitely an unusual occupation that captured my interest. Of course, the magic of this book is the mystery of what's really going on, who's after Tessa, and why. Just when you think you know who the bad guy is, Heitzmann does a super job of revealing the truth bit by bit and surprising the reader.

The revelation of who was really responsible for the pranks at the labyrinth site wasn't what I expected but still worked in leading to the greater problem: Tessa's memory of a childhood incident that had been repressed over the years. This aspect of the novel reminded me of some of the best Mary Higgins Clark. The human mind is an amazing gift from God: as useful as it is mysterious. How the mind blocks out overwhelming events and what triggers memories that need to be exposed were fascinating dynamics of this novel. Of course, this bit of psychology also worked well into the plot as Tessa's memory of a murder begins to unravel. Then, of course, you've got the bad guy who doesn't want her to remember. The novel offered several twists and turns that kept the pages turning and my interest engaged until the last word.

Though I enjoyed the plot and Heitzmann's superb writing, I will admit to a few disappointments. The biblical content and spiritual message are a bit shallow for my taste. Smith's faith is vague, and Tessa's is even more vague. I would have preferred to see Tessa find a biblical counselor who could have helped her with her problems from God's Word. Instead, we find her leaning a little too heavily on a secular psychologist who talks her through her problems according to man's wisdom but never brings up biblical solutions. That's a disappointment. I was also irritated by the repeated scenes of two unmarried people kissing and getting physical. In our day and age of Christian couples becoming too physically intimate before marriage (and often suffering the consequences), this content simply isn't necessary, doesn't appear to align with Scripture, and was a minus for me. I realize this novel is probably tame compared to others, but I think I'm just going to steer clear of all Christian romance (including romantic suspense) in the future. This type of content, unfortunately, is pretty standard across the industry, judging by the many Christian novels I've been reading lately.

All negatives aside, the novel is a fun, engaging, and suspenseful read. I love the cover. Heitzmann is a gifted novelist with a superb storytelling talent with words, plotting, and characterization. If you are looking for a clean, suspenseful read, The Edge of Recall is worthy of being on your list.

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