Rachel Fordham. The Hope of Azure Springs. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2018.
I’m not typically the person who cries while reading or watching movies. Some people find that cathartic, but I would prefer to find something humorous. However, I have found that some novels are so poignant that anything less than tears would do the story a great disservice.
Ms. Fordham releases her debut novel, The Hope of Azure Springs. Em arrives in the town of Azure Springs in the back of a wagon, injured and alone. Under the expert nursing of one of the town’s families, Em begins her recovery and tell her story to Sheriff Caleb Reynolds. Orphaned years before, Em arrived in Iowa as part of the orphan train. Adopted by a recluse, Em spent the last seven years living almost entirely alone, with no chance to search for her sister. Em’s recovery in Azure Springs offers her a new chance at life, as she learns to love the family who look after her and becomes friends with Caleb. While Caleb hopes to solve Em’s case, he finds himself intrigued with this otherwise plain woman who could use a few more meals before being deemed healthy. Together, Em and Caleb find healing in their encounters, as they start to move past the tragedy in their lives and bring joy to those around them.
The Hope of Azure Springs reflects the very best of Christian fiction, combining the prairie stories readers love with a unique writing style that will draw readers in from the very beginning. Fans, young and old, of Christian fiction will appreciate this heart-felt story of true beauty and hope.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Hope of Azure Springs. While it is always a risk to read a debut author, this novel is well worth it! Ms. Fordham has an intriguing, almost conversational, writing style that reads as if she is telling someone a bedtime story, rather than an adult novel. While the characters experience tragedy and hardship, I would argue that this novel may serve as an interesting and approachable novel for younger readers being introduced to adult-oriented Christian fiction. The content is quite clean and the presence of younger characters makes the story interesting to a youth audience. However, the plot, character development, and emotional component of the novel definitely place it among the top-tier of the genre. After reading The Hope of Azure Springs, I eagerly anticipate reading Ms. Fordham’s future works and wish her all the best in her forthcoming work in this field.
Fans of Christian historical fiction will definitely want to read The Hope of Azure Springs. For readers who easily cry during heart-tugging stories, I would recommend Kleenex for this particular novel.
Special thanks to Revell and NetGalley for the complimentary copy of The Hope of Azure Springs! Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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