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Thursday, April 26, 2007

My review of Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky

Book Description:

The screaming flames surrounded the small town of Hinckley before most knew to flee. Hours later, the survivors picked their way out of the ashes and began anew. For the tight-knit town, the fire meant the inexplicable loss of family, devastating financial ruin, and the disquieting loss of faith. While some agonized over words left unsaid and gestures unmade, one man rejoiced. His secrets fled on the cinders to Heaven, along with everyone who knew them. Or had they? But in the wake of the maelstrom stood a scorched child of God, filled with resiliency, resolve, and the truth—the truth that would bring freedom and restore faith in God and in man.

My review:

Veil of Fire is a fascinating story based on an actual historical event--the worst fire in Minnesota's history--a fire that burned 400 square miles and killed 418 people in just four hours. The story begins with non-stop action as a hellish blaze consumes everything in sight. The reader is placed in the middle of the maelstrom as the events unfold, and it's an awesome and terrifying experience.

The potential for evil in the hearts of men really comes out in this story, as does a theme of regret. But God takes the painful things and if we let Him, He will shape us into beautiful vessels. I loved the analogy of the gingerbread cookie. Something bitter, something sweet, and a whole lot of heat. That about sums up life in this world. Why do bad things happen? They just do. Is God there? Yes. Whether we see Him or not is based on our choice. These are just a few of the meaty lessons I gleaned from this wonderful story.

Of course, some of the bad guys never change, but that's real life. But many people who were either lukewarm or living behind of false mask, or a "church face" learned about unconditional love and the power of opening your heart and taking risks. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

Plus, the poor "monster" in the hills really tore at my heart. I loved how the "monster's" thoughts were in first person and the others were in third person point of view. That style had greater impact for the reader. Oh, and the best part of all is that who I thought the "monster" was through the whole story turned out to be someone else. I just love twists like that. I might even read this story twice. Highly recommended!

Veil of Fire
is published by Cook Communications and will be released in May 2007.

I will be doing a giveaway on this book this weekend! Just comment on this post or the next one and I'll enter your name!

1 comment:

marlo said...

Michelle made my day with her review of my book, VEIL OF FIRE -- not only that she's giving it the thumbs up, but that she saw the heart of the story. And so, I thought it might be neat to tell a little about how I first came up with the idea for VEIL OF FIRE.

For this book, the idea was birthed at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the mission town of San Juan Bautista. There I was, sitting with my family, nibbling chips and salsa, when a wedding party came by. The bridesmaids were dressed in beautiful turn-of-the-century style gowns. As they passed, my mother-in-law began to tell me of the dresses that her great grandmother, who lived in Hinckley, used to sew for the rich ladies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. From there, came the story of the great Hinckley fire and the rebuilding that this woman, my husband’s great-great-grandmother, was a part of. And finally, I heard the tale of the mystery figure in the hills, a person burned beyond recognition. A person never identified, living as a hermit until one day he just disappeared.

At that moment, the first inklings of the story that would become Veil of Fire were born in my heart. Who was the hermit in the hills? What happened to him? And how would I solve the mystery if I could? As I pondered those questions, I knew that I had to write the hermit’s story. Had to explore what it would be like to lose everything, even your identity. Had to hear the hermit’s voice in my mind, and hear the story for myself.

So, the writing of the book became for me a process of discovery, as I hope it will be for my readers. I hope that as the mystery of the hermit drew me, so too it will draw others to this story of how fire can change you, take from you, and in the end, may just set you free.

For more info, feel free to visit my website at

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