Sunday, January 8, 2017

REVIEW: The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

The Mark of the King 
by Jocelyn Green

Publisher: Bethany House
Page Count: 416
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Format: ARC Paperback

How got: ARC gotten via giveaway

First attention getter: setting

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

Sweeping Historical Fiction Set at the Edge of the Continent 

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720's French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict. 

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne's brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on? 

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king's mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

While more Christian-laden than expected, I still found that I enjoyed this work for its setting originality and engrossing story. The author explores a setting not often seen in historical fiction, making it live with vivid characters and a strong story. This is a book that will suck you in.

I’ve read works set in colonial New Orleans before, Christian ones in fact. Yet, I've never come across anything this early into the development of the colony. Seeing the harsh conditions and trials faced by the early colonists made for a gritty story. The author does a fantastic job in bringing this harsh world to life, giving our characters a horrifying backdrop to tell their story. Disease, famine, swamps, alligators, and betrayal all show their ugly faces.

I grew to appreciate Julianne and Marc-Paul as individuals; both are faced with possible scenarios that require grit and courage to overcome. I found myself especially drawn into Julianne’s story as it just goes to prove that being a woman in past eras was rarely a good thing. She has injustice after injustice heaped upon her; yet, she faces each challenge with courage and a calm dignity that I grew to admire. Marc-Paul was also as lovely. I admired his loyalty and his unwavering faith in her and God in a society that seems to discredit such. Both together are pure magic!

The one area of this book that fell down, for me personally anyway, was how heavy-handed the Christian elements could be used at times. Now, I know this is a Christian work, elements such as those are to be expected. However, there were a few times where I felt like I was being preached to; the Christian elements and themes weren't interwoven with the narrative and overall story as well as it could have been in some places. However, to another reader, especially a Christian one, this particular aspect of the book probably won't be as glaring. So take this part of the review with a grain of salt.

Despite the overarching Christian tones at times, I found this book to be an engrossing look at early colonial New Orleans and the harsh time its inhabitants had trying to settle such an inhospitable place. Marc-Paul and Julianne's journey made for engrossing reading; their evident chemistry was beautiful to behold against such harshness. I would definitely recommend this book to Christian readers, an audience that probably won't mind the overly Christian elements. Even non-Christian readers though, like myself, will find something to enjoy in this book, if only for our leads and their suspenseful story.

Note: Book received for free from the publisher via a Librarything giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

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