Bethany Barclay is running for her life. She’s a struggling attorney who’s been framed for the murder of a client. To clear her name, she must follow the trail left by her friend Annabelle to find out who killed her and why. Meanwhile, members of a centuries-old secret society known simply as The Garden track Bethany’s every move, aiding her when they can. Because The Garden knows that Bethany has been targeted by the ruthless Wilderness Society . . . and to advance their agenda in a centuries-old battle they’ll find out what she knows and then kill her too.
Each of the novels in this series revolves around the struggle between The Garden and The Wilderness. Working insidiously over the centuries, The Wilderness orchestrates “snakebites”—tiny scandals that cumulatively will bring an end to belief.
I’m always a little wary of writers who publish under pseudonyms. There are good points on both sides of the debate, but Ann Rice managed to go from vampires to Jesus without a pseudonym quite successfully. I’d also never read anything under A L Shields’ real name of Stephen L Carter, so I really had no idea what I was going to get. What drew me to The Church Builder was the plot. It promised to be a battle between the good and the totally not so good. I also knew going in that it was the first title of a new series so I realized it was possible that nothing would be resolved by the end of it. What I didn’t expect was to be so thoroughly hooked!
As a character, Bethany is mediocre. She’s probably not an attorney I’d hire. Her business isn’t doing well, but somehow she’s able to leave it all behind on the spur of the moment to go on a treasure hunt. She also has an annoying tendency to constantly call her younger traveling companion, “Honey,” which comes across as patronizing. Despite that, she does have some street smarts and uses them where possible. We know she probably is innocent of the accusations leveled at her, and this means she’s not much of an interesting character. Other characters intrigued me as they’re more ambiguous. What side are they on? Who do they work for? Can they be trusted? The Church Builder is fast-paced and straightforward in its writing. I just have one problem with this novel: it ends on a cliff-hanger and I’ve got no idea when book two will be released!
Thank you to Zondervan and Booksneeze for my free review copy of The Church Builder, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: 09 October 2013
Page Count: 432
Read more on: Zondervan’s Website