Secret Sacrament struck me as an odd amalgamation as if Louisa May Alcott wrote an epic fantasy screenplay for Disney Most of the novel reads as a simple relatively staid middle grade level coming
Secret Sacrament struck me as an odd amalgamation - as if Louisa May Alcott wrote an epic fantasy screenplay for Disney. Most of the novel reads as a simple, relatively staid middle grade level coming of age story, but it occasionally lurches into scenes of sex and violence. Gabriel, the healer trainee protagonist, was too much of a vanilla goody-two-shoes for my taste, and in general both characters and cultures were painted in too broad of strokes for me. For example we were told the main villain was convincing and evil, but we were only shown one let's-kill-the-hero cacklefest and one je accuse scene. Also, we aren't told much about the love interest except that she's pretty, a healer, and as brave as the rest of her tribe. It wasn't enough for me to buy into the characters, although simple characters wouldn't have bothered me so much if the novel had stayed firmly in middle grade mode (who cares that the people are simple in Walter Farley, after all?). Also, I have seen the tribal/conquering culture dynamic done with much more detail and creativity in other novels. The combination of painted faces, dancing around fires, canoe races and brave fighting falls pretty squarely in the stereotypical. Sherryl Jordan is a talented writer, but I was left with the impression that this genre didn't fit her. Bestseller Secret Sacrament Author Sherryl Jordan Viral Books Terrified, a young Navaron child watches helplessly from his hiding place as a young Shinili woman is brutally beaten and abused by a group of drunken Navaron men Too frightened to answer her pleas for help, the child runs away, taking with him the sacred bone carving of the Shinili people In doing so, he forever binds himself and his fate to them Gabriel is no ordinaryTerrified, a young Navaron child watches helplessly from his hiding place as a young Shinili woman is brutally beaten and abused by a group of drunken Navaron men Too frightened to answer her pleas for help, the child runs away, taking with him the sacred bone carving of the Shinili people In doing so, he forever binds himself and his fate to them Gabriel is no ordinary boy His life is now marked out for greatness by powers beyond his understandingHe s never wanted to follow in his father s footsteps and become a wealthy, sea faring merchant, celebrated by all in the ancient empire of Navora but cold and distant to his family Haunted by a terrible childhood secret Gabriel spurns family tradition and duties as the eldest son, to pursue a life of helping others Derived from a deep sense of guilt and strange mysterious visions Gabriel knows that he is destined to become a healer, with the power to decipher dreams, no matter what his overbearing family argues But against his will, Gabriel finds himself caught up in the power struggles of a corrupt Empire, endangering all that he loves His decision to hold true to his destiny is one that will cost him dearly, and one that threatens to tear apart the entire Navoran Empire but which might just end up saving an entire people.. Award winning New Zealand author Sherryl Jordan began her writing career with picture books, but soon moved on to novels for older readers Her breakthrough came with Rocco, published in the United States as A Time of Darkness, and since that time she has gone on to pen many titles for young adult and juvenile readers that have been published both in her native New Zealand and throughout the world The recipient of a 1993 fellowship to the prestigious writing program at the University of Iowa, Jordan used her time in the United States to speak widely at schools and conferences about her books, which blend fantasy with bits of science fiction and romantic realism All my young adult novels have been gifts, she noted in the St James Guide to Children s Writers I don t think them up They hit me over the head when I least expect them overwhelm me with impressions, sights, and sounds of their new worlds enchant me with their characters and dare me to write them.. Bestseller Book Secret Sacrament Checked out from library. After reading several non-fiction books I was hoping to find something easy and fun in fantasy. This book was a gamble and I didn't really get what I wanted, but there was no great loss.Overall, I liked the book in the way one likes a book of tropes. There's something familiar and easy about it. A three is the most I could give it though. It was a meh plot line, meh story, meh writing, meh characters with a touching ending.Jordan tried to cover a lot of ground in one book and managed to do it more or less. Which is more than many authors who try to cover the length of time and grandeur of the plot can say. The writing however was a little amateur (it was obviously a lot of work and didn't seem to come naturally.) There was a lot of over usage of words like beautiful. Sometimes settings and things were weakly described and summed up as amazing or some other synonyms. The main character is in awe often. Originally, I thought this story was written in third person omnipresent, which it could be said to be, but it seems clear when the third person changed from character to character. There was a pretty large cast of characters in this book, which is typical of fantasy. I didn't need a chart at the beginning of the book.I'm not giving this a two or one star review, so I don't feel like I really have to explain myself to the people who love it. Does it seem like people tend to read the 1 to 2 star reviews more often than the highly rated ones? I do want to briefly address what I found lack luster in the book.The plot line is a chosen one type. The world wasn't well explored. Many notions about it were taken for granted or explained if and when they were relevant. That's partly due to a need to keep it short and easy to read for youngsters, but I hate giving that excuse. There are impressive books out there for kids that I love reading. The resources for this book's plot were kind of spread thin. There are several time skips, some very large. I've never read and loved a book that threw in huge time skips (as part of a coherent linear time-line.) The plot isn't character driven or driven by an immediate adventure or quest. It's driven by a prophecy and the politics of country falling into corruption. Jordan appears keenly aware of her time line and the sequence of events that need to happen in the plot. In a way this is so apparent it takes all the mystery out of it, which works for some I suppose, but it isn't my cup of tea. It doesn't seem like she cared if there was much left unsaid though, since in the Foreword she mentions Myron dies. The best part of this book was the plot; it was well structured and seemed to get the most attention, even if it was predictable.The characters were a bit lack luster. They didn't feel entirely fleshed out and felt a bit like playing pieces in a game. The characters I liked the most were the ones who showed flaw - Petra and Tarkwan and Gabriel's mother seemed like real characters. They have enough history to have depth and have flaws that get them into trouble. Gabriel's major flaw is supposed to be that he's a coward and he has a sort of naivete. These flaws are normal, forgivable reactions to the reader. He doesn't have any particular flaws or quirks that make him more interesting (he does like to run). And I have to say it takes a lot of courage to be a medic of any kind. I think it takes all the courage in the world to help people even when you know some of them are going to die and to continue helping people even after some do die. Occasionally, Gabriel's personality seemed inconsistent. Also, how many times do we need to be reminded about his looks and that he has wavy/curly red-golden hair that's frequently damp. I'm pretty sure I've read a similar description in another book with a character who had "damp curls." Do you people, with curly hair, have some kind of dampness issue? Everything in the world (other than the immediate politics) is taken for granted. There's clearly a theology we're meant to take as a kind of Christianity I guess. There's nothing in particular about the world that's unique or interesting. It's as if Jordan is promising not to surprise us or scare us with anything unfamiliar. There will be no worlds through wardrobes, no moving stairs or talking pictures, no fairy folk living underground, no monkey librarians or talking dragons or humanoid trees or some mythology or festivity that we're truly unfamiliar with. There's nothing with an outstanding sense of creativity, quirk or unexpectedness. Part of this might be due to this feeling more like it should've been written to an adult audience, but was condensed and made a middle grade book. For a middle grade book it seems like there's a longing to be more erotic and sexual. I imagine it would've been better if it had been written to adults. Aside from the erotic parts, the world would probably be more in-depth. Something that kind of confused me was that it almost seems set up as if it should be a part of a series. At the end of the book it's clear that it's the end of Gabriel's story. Ironically, the end of the story could still be seen as a coward's way out. Courage is in the eye of the beholder.*Edit: I've found some grammatical errors and correcting them.