Monday, December 3, 2007

Auralia's Colors Reviewed

As promised, here is Randy's review:

If Charles Dickens had written fantasy fiction, he would have produced something similar to Auralia’s Colors. The serial-like chapters, the surprise revelations, even the drab, dreary atmosphere Jeffrey Overstreet captures give the book a Dickens-esque quality. Which can be good or bad, depending on your opinion of Dickens.

For me it’s a mixed bag of emotions. I love Overstreet’s characters (Maugam, the prison keeper is my favorite). Even extreme characters, like King Cal-marcus and Stricia, motivated realistically enough that their actions are believable. The one drawback for his characters is the sheer number of them. A new person becomes the focus of nearly every chapter. It’s hard to keep them all straight while trying to understand Overstreet’s story world at the same time.
As for Overstreet’s story world, it’s not nearly as old-feeling as J. R. R. Tolkien’s or Stephen Lawhead’s, but the characters truly live there. The comments, passing phrases, and thought processes of the characters are true to the world. In another refreshing turn, Overstreet created many of his own animals (eg vawns, reptilian, beasts of burden) and fantastical creatures instead of mindlessly recycling the stock elves, dwarves and trolls.

The most stunning thing about Auralia’s Colors is Overstreet’s prose. His poetic language brings the whole world to life. The people’s colorless existence and Auralia’s colorful attempts to change it are as vivid as the two halves of The Wizard of Oz. He’s caught the colors in words in way that few people could. I’m not big on the plot (it’s bit convoluted and leaves threads hanging, which is okay, I suppose—it is the first in a series), but Overstreet’s style, his world and his characters are a refreshing addition to the Christian fantasy world.

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