It’s time for an author requested review! I also have a mini interview about this book from the author herself who, may I say, is wonderful for taking part in my blog!
The book is ‘More Things in Heaven and Earth’ by E. A. Comiskey; a mother who has heard voices all her life is suddenly approached by an angel who tells her the extent of her powers and the burden it carries. When I first read the blurb, if anything, I was intrigued. From page 1, there was something that drew me into the story. I have to say, the title is also something to think about; I liked the Shakespeare (Hamlet) reference!
The character of ‘Simone’ is very likeable. You really understand her struggles and her most intimate fears which made me connect with her quite quickly. The voices in her head are real; creatures in other dimensions speaking to her. Is this a gift, or a burden? I think her character development throughout the story is really inspiring; I don’t necessarily think she became stronger, I believe that she always had an ‘inner strength’ (she never thought she had to use) and that she was stronger than she first believed. She is very honest with the reader and the fact that she is also a mum who has a number of priorities, one of them being unconditional love for her family, makes her a relatable character. Without spoiling the story, her battle with courage and bravery, burden vs duty, is also one I admire.
I believe the characters (even the secondary ones) are interesting. At times, there were quite a number of characters to keep track of, but the ‘main plot’ characters were very well thought out. Although portrayed through Simone’s point of view, her language and thought process create an unbiased view of the characters where you can come up with your own opinion of them. There is a rather interesting character she interacts with; you get an instant opinion of them which may or may not change throughout the novel depending on perspectives but… I won’t spoil the plot! Sorry! Additionally, there are creatures of supernatural, mythical and legendary origin. I really enjoyed how the story flowed from the seemingly ordinary world to one where all these beings are real… this book really does have everything!
Another thing I enjoyed about the book is that it’s very thought provoking. Although fitting in with the genre of ‘Christian fiction’, I do believe that the philosophies and concepts are interesting even to those who wouldn’t call themselves religious. I always enjoy books which make you think more deeply and this book was no exception. The plot is full of interesting ideologies and discussions, without them being forced.
That’s another thing; this book isn’t preachy or forceful in any way. Comiskey focuses on the idea of love and strength rather than religion, which I think is something we can all relate to. It is beautifully written and a mesmerising read. It’s unlike anything else I’ve read!
It’s time for the interview with E. A. Comiskey herself!!!
Why did you decide it was time to write a book? What inspired you to write this story?
All my life I’ve loved to write but it never really occurred to me to do it vocationally. I had trouble finishing projects. I would get an idea and write a page or a chapter and then I’d go back and fix that over and over again until I tied myself in a knot and abandoned the project. Then, in 2012, I heard about NaNoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. It sounded impossible! In the advice section of their website, they say that, in order to write that quickly, it’s important to never look back. If there are changes in the timeline or mistakes that need to be corrected you can fix it in editing. For the first draft, you just need to get the words on paper. Having permission to make a mess allowed me to get an entire book out of my brain and into the world. It took a long time to clean it up and make it publishable, but just knowing I had the ability to do it was life-changing.
Do you feel you related to any of the characters? if so, in what way?
I definitely channeled a lot of myself through Simone. She has different reactions to situations than I do but deep down she’s “just a mom” who’s trying to do what’s right and that’s my day-to-day reality as well.
That said, Donovan is the character I have always wanted to write. I could say so much about him and why I love him but… spoilers.
I thought the novel was very thought-provoking! There are many concepts and philosophies I had not even thought of before! Did you intend this to be so?
I did. I grew up in a very conservative Christian environment and I was the kind of kid who questioned everything. Even as a little girl I remember the people around me stating things as facts. They were so certain that they knew what Heaven was like, what the Second Coming of Christ would be like, what happened in the first days of earth. They told me, “the Bible says there’s no such thing as ghosts,” and “Magic isn’t real,” but I was a reader from a very young age. I read the Bible for myself and I saw a story where a witch summons a ghost from the dead. I read warnings about the dangers of magic. I read about leviathans that made the earth shake and Nephilim who were the offspring of angels and humans and became, “the men of the legends of old.” All my life I’ve wondered: what if all those things modern American Christians are so quick to dismiss are real? What if one of these super conservative folks came face to face with that reality? Would it break them? Would it change their faith? “More Things in Heaven and Earth” came out of exploring that scenario.
The book focuses on the battle between good and evil, but brought new and fresh ideas to the concept. How did your thought process work?
Several months before I wrote the book I was having a conversation with a pastor friend of mine who is an outspoken pacifist. I told him, “I lean toward pacifism, but I struggle with the idea that there is never a time to fight back. Are we just supposed to let others kill us? Invade our nation? Do whatever they like?”
Without batting an eyelash he said, “Yes. We are supposed to love, unconditionally. If they kill us, we know Heaven awaits. If they invade our nation or do evil… well… in all the history of the world we’ve tried to solve those problems by killing our brothers and sisters. What if we laid down our guns and trusted God to sort it out? What if we had faith so extreme that we truly did what Jesus said and completely let go of fear?”
In “More Things in Heaven and Earth,” Simone embraces that kind of faith so when she goes to war it looks very different from what we would normally think of. I will say, though, that in the later books the characters struggle to maintain her level of faith so there is a constant shifting and changing in the way the fight between good and evil plays out.
The next book is out! What inspired you to keep the story going and continue writing?
At the end of “More Things,” Simone’s story was pretty neatly tied up and finished but there were these other characters whose lives had changed in significant ways and there wasn’t a lot of closure for them. Each book in the series carries the narrative forward from the perspective of a different character so the reader is able to learn what happens to all of the people and creatures Simone met during her journey.
(Without giving away spoilers) would you like to tell the readers a little more about your new book?
It’s a little tricky because page one of “Dwelling in Heaven and Earth” is a big spoiler if you haven’t finished “More Things!” So, leaving names out of it, I will say this: the first book is very epic. It’s all about the connection between the prophet and her God. She travels through time and space and experiences a lot of big, miraculous moments. Book two is much more earth-bound. The main characters know who Simone was and what she did and they want very much to be as good as her… but… they also know that it’s oh-so-fun to be bad. They are creatures of the flesh who struggle to embrace the spiritual.
I always feel like I need to give a little disclaimer for the second book. The first was rather “PG-13.” The second is a solid “R.” After all, it is a book in which beings in possession of supernatural appetites struggle (and often give in) to their darkest desires.
Book three is due out this winter and it takes the story in yet another whole new direction.
Thank you E. A. Comiskey!
I would recommend this book for those who are a fan of fantasy, supernatural and also YA fans. Additionally, whatever your personal choice/stance on religion, I think those who want to try and read something a little different and want a thought provoking story, this is for you! To sum up, I would say this is a ‘book that transports you into a world you never knew existed, where one woman’s strength is tested beyond you can even imagine…”
Here’s how you can get your hands on a copy
I hope you enjoyed the review and interview! I will be posting a review of the next book in the series “Dwelling in Heaven and Earth” soon!
Here is where you can get Book 2:
I received this book for free by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
(And thank you to Martin for assisting me in the photography, anti-reflective sheets are the best) As always, happy reading! Lx