Bethany House, 2012
Oh man. This book was amazing. Like, really, really amazing. I stayed up until 3am reading, and wanted to finish it but my eyes gave out. When I did finish it, I didn't want the adventure to end. It's a beautiful story, with living breathing characters, and it swept me away entirely. The happy part: it's book one in a series, and if you visit Larson's site, you get a teaser and cover for the second book Judge. I'm already swooning. Back to the review...
Prophet is fantasy, but it's also what I consider "Biblical fiction". It reads like an Old Testament story, but with a light brush of fantasy, and set in another world. It's beautiful, it's sweeping, it's not overwhelmingly fantasy - nor overwhelmingly preachy. Ela, our prophet, is a spunky and very human young lady. She knows the Voice of her Creator - Infinite - and though she doesn't always understand, and even questions Him at times, she is faithful to her calling. Her choice. Along the path of her mission, she meets Kien Lan Tec, and things get complicated. As the two become unlikely friends, Ela struggles with her perceived duties as Prophet and her human heart. Other characters flesh out the story, each bringing their own flavor and touch. And the horses - I'm such a sucker for a good horse, and the destroyers provide comic relief while also assisting the story.
I'm trying to find the best words to describe Prophet, but really - I think it's something you have to read and experience yourself. Know that the story is well-plotted and well-paced. There are twists and turns you don't expect, but they work. The characters live and breathe, and you want to root for them. They're human, they're flawed, but they're trying. As I said before, the fantasy element is presented with a light hand - it strengthens Ela's story rather than distracting from it. And the relationship Ela has with Infinite - their conversations - oh, they made something in my heart tweak. Larson has done a beautiful job of showing the love that God - Infinite - has for His people, how very involved He is with even the smallest details of human life. Watching Kien and others slowly come to understand what Ela is saying is so much like watching humanity struggle to see - to know - why an all-powerful being would care about little ol' me. It's beautiful, simply breath-taking. Now, I really need to get my hands on Judge and find out what happens next.
ARC provided by publisher for review.