Monday, August 26, 2013

"Into the Whirlwind" Review

As owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, Mollie Knox loves nothing more than running the business that her father left to her. She enjoys her orderly life, and she adores the fact that she is able to help her father’s fellow Civil War veterans have employment and a better life.

Zack Kazmarek is a lawyer for one of the best department stores in Chicago, and he is accustomed to making his own way. For years he has been handling the business dealings of the store, including the contracts for the elaborate pocket watches that are created by Mollie Knox and her staff. And each time she comes to his office, he admires her more and more.

But every citizen in Chicago sees their normal lives go up in smoke in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire. Mollie and Zack – along with Mollie’s lawyer and friend, Frank, and a lost child, Sophie – battle their way through the swarming streets of Chicago to escape the raging inferno.

In the days following the devastating fire, the city of Chicago has a chance to rebuild bigger and better than it ever was before. Will Zack and Mollie be able to say the same about their own lives?

The premise of this novel was really intriguing to me, and I was looking forward to reading it purely for the historical aspect alone. However as I read this book, I just couldn’t make up my mind what I felt about it. I liked the historical details, and the book really got off to an exciting start. But for reasons that I can’t completely put my finger on, I didn’t like it as much as I did previous novels by this author.

I think what made me feel this way the most was how much I didn’t really like the main female character Mollie. I really didn’t appreciate how she treated Sophie. Yes, Sophie was spoiled and not pleasant to be around. She definitely needed to be taken to task about her behavior, but she was still a child, and a possible orphan at that. At one point Mollie says to herself that “the prospect of raising her (Sophie) was as appealing as hauling a millstone around her neck for the next ten years.” It was those kinds of thoughts towards a poor orphan child and the way that she treated Zack that did not endear me to Mollie. She seemed to have no compassion at all. She only cared about her perfect, ordered life, and she was stubborn to the point of being childish. Mollie did feel some affection and honor towards the wounded Civil War veterans in her employ, which kept her from coming across as completely devoid of emotion. All of this would have been acceptable if she had experienced growth in some way over the course of the novel, but she did not.

I liked Zack more than I liked Mollie in this book, but he also seemed to be a contradiction. He was portrayed as this strong, resourceful, pulled-himself-up-by-his-bootstraps kind of guy, but when it came to Mollie, he was a coward in every sense of the word. I mean, he pined for her from afar for three years? To me that just didn’t fit with the rest of his character. Aside from that, Zack was the most interesting of the characters.

As for the spiritual aspect, it wasn’t very deep at all. It seemed to just be thrown in here and there without much meaning or relation to the characters’ everyday lives. The characters in this book had every opportunity for deep spiritual growth considering all that they went through, but I just didn’t feel it.

The best part of this novel was definitely its historical setting. The city of Chicago came alive almost as an additional character in the book. The description of the fire was very well done, especially the parts immediately following the fire when the people rallied to rebuild their glorious city. I also enjoyed the watch-making portions of the novel.

This novel almost seems to go in a reverse form from a typical book. With the fire taking place at the beginning, it seemed as if that was the climax, and then the rest of the book was all the rest of the details of rebuilding and then the love triangle with Mollie, Zack, and Richard. I didn’t necessarily have a problem with this unique way of telling the story, but it did make the middle portion of the book drag a bit.

Overall I thought the historical information and details in this book were outstanding, but the fiction story around the history left a little bit to be desired.

I will give Into the Whirlwind … 3 BookWorms.


Into the Whirlwind
by Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: August 1, 2013

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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