5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Place of Voices is a Christian coming-of-age fantasy in the tradition of C.S. Lewis. Three young characters, widely separated by time and space are miraculously brought together by divine intervention. In their time together, each finds healing from the individual pains and fears that are holding them back, ultimately allowing them to fulfill their role in an intertwined destiny.
The Place of Voices is a Christian coming-of-age fantasy in the tradition of C.S. Lewis.
This book drew me in from the very beginning with its enchanting, dream-like sense of atmosphere. The narrative flows like water, elegant in its simplicity yet suffused with rich, multi-dimensional meaning. The author strikes a good balance between description and evocation as well as exposition and subtext, and the language is understandable to a wide audience. The characters are well-developed and immediately sympathetic, with the dialogue and chemistry remaining strong throughout.
As a time-travel narrative, the story borrows much from the historical fiction genre, and I was impressed to see that the characters actually feel like they come from the times they portray. I have read many ‘historical’ novels (primarily Christian ones, unfortunately) that simply transplant 21st century characters. The avoidance of this pitfall shows that the author is writing from a genuine love of history rather than just using it as a convenient frame device. The connections that are gradually revealed between all three protagonists were also compelling, particularly the way in which they defied so-called “racial” categories; human history becomes a far more fascinating study once we dispense with such illusory concepts (I’ll leave things at that lest I spoil a key plot twist).
The fantasy genre has often been defined as one in which the internal conflicts of the characters are externalized. The Place of Voices fulfills this almost literally, and at times it felt as if I was reading one of George MacDonald’s classic fairy tales. The overarching theme (that of acceptance, healing and overcoming) particularly resonated with me as someone who has undergone counseling for emotional struggles and intrusive thoughts. I thought of this classic proverb after I finished reading: “Lord, give me the grace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
At times it felt as if I was reading one of George Macdonald’s classic fairy tales.
The Christian worldview is represented in a freshly imaginative but accurate manner. I would have some questions regarding the role that Mayan history plays in this storyline (something that has actually piqued my interest in the topic a bit), but this is a very minor point that stems from my own specific doctrinal beliefs. I’m more than willing to grant some poetic license to the author given the very nature of her story.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys both historical fiction and fantasy in the classic tradition. A promising beginning to what looks to be a very interesting series!
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Age recommendation: Suitable for all ages; targeted to young adults.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Place of Voices with a request for an unbiased review.
Reviewed by A.K. Preston
A.K. Preston is the author of The Gevaudan Project, and has published short stories in The Unseen Anthology and The Untold Podcast (to be released sometime this year). You can find him at his website, AKPreston.com. In his spare time, he likes to read classic literature, history, and speculative fiction of all types.