Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Review - Fire in the Night by Linda Byler

I love books, and honestly have not been reading enough lately.  When it comes to genres, I like cozy mysteries, thrillers, Amish fiction, suspense, and even horror.   For the most part, I tend to stick with some pretty uplifting fiction just as I do with the films I watch.  I was sent an invitation a while back from Open Road Media to read and review a book by Linda Byler titled "Fire in the Night."  They invited me to review it because I have reviewed and enjoyed Amish fiction in the past.  They supplied this book via NetGalley to facilitate my review.  Receiving this opportunity for free does not impact the review.  These opinions are my own.

Title:  Fire in the Night (Lancaster Burning)
Author:  Linda Byler

About the book (from NetGalley):


Bestselling Amish writer Linda Byler introduces a new Amish novel, the first in her new series about Sarah Beiler in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The Amish community of Lancaster is being terrorized by barn fires. David and Malinda Beiler’s barn was the first to go. The clues are sparse, but Levi, the Beilers’ oldest son, happened to be awake in the middle of the night and spotted a white vehicle driving past the house with its lights off. Sarah, David and Malinda’s daughter, is in her late teens and old enough to observe her parents’ agony. Not only is she afraid, too, and wishing she could protect her parents, she’s entranced by the flirtatious Matthew Stoltzfus. He’s dating her friend, Rose, but when he tenderly bandages Sarah’s hand after she burned it at the barn raising, she wonders who he’s really interested in.?When a second Amish barn burns for suspicious reasons, the Amish grow more restless. “We’re too quiet too much of the time,” a group of Amish men tell David Beiler, their minister. Seriously considering police protection, the increasingly tense community questions their traditional nonresistant approach to violence. Sarah now finds herself at odds with her mother over her choice of boyfriends and uncertain about how to respond to the attention of Lee, a newcomer to Lancaster. Not only that, she wonders if her dad is a wise enough leader as her community reels from within and without. Everyone is on edge as the losses mount and suspicions undo the usual steadiness of these people.

My Review:  This is the first book I have read by the author.  I really did not know anything about her, and found out after I was about halfway through that she is actually Amish.  Some have said that it is much better reading Amish fiction from an Amish author.  In the long run, I just want to read good fiction, and whether or not the author is of the faith they are writing about or not is of no concern to me if the book is well written. If a book is well written with an engaging story, I will recommend to a friend. I would recommend Fire in the Night to a friend.

The story immediately grabbed my attention by bringing conflict into the pages fairly quickly along with giving me an opportunity to immediately start to learn about one of the characters.  I am quite fond of mysteries so I found myself hoping as I read through the book to find a clue here and there.  There were brief glimpses, but the focus really seemed to be more on Sarah and her love woes.  I would have liked both the mystery and the romance to progress equally. 

I enjoyed the characters and thought they were drawn out well.  Levi, Sarah's older brother, was especially delightful.  My heart went out to Sarah's family as well as the community as the fires and loss continued to devastate them.  The author pulled some very real tears out of me which is not something easily done. 
The descriptions in the story were occasionally long, but I never felt like they were heavy handed.  There were moments though that I felt it would have been nice to trade off more information on tradition and the  Amish ways with less description of Sarah trying to flatten her hair with fructis.  I wanted to know why certain things were done the way they were, because they are so different from my own way of living. 

The long and the short of it is this, Fire in the Night was a very well told story.  I found myself caring about the characters and the community.  The action moved along well enough to keep me engaged.  It did not always swiftly move, but it didn't  need to.  My main concern as I came near the end of the book was a curiosity of how things were going to be resolved in the small amount of time left.  The answer to that concern was a very abrupt ending with no resolution in sight.  I kind of felt like I had turned a corner and walked directly into a wall.  It would have been nice to see one thing resolved.  If I had purchased the book, that might have ticked me off a bit, but then again, maybe it would inspire me to run out and get the next book.  I definitely would like to read the next book in the series to see what happens next.

Again, I received this book for a review via the publisher through NetGalley.

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