From the beginning, this book piqued my interest. Christian sci-fi? While I am familiar with the fantasy genre within the Christian publishing industry, I haven’t seen that they have much to offer in the sci-fi genre. Flight of Shadows by Sigmund Brouwer is a good example of what such a genre could be.
Flight of Shadows takes place in a bleak post-war future where the societies of earth have fallen apart and re-structured themselves into a caste system where the “Influentials” are given carte blanche, while the people at the bottom have no rights at all and are essentially slaves. The people stuck in the middle just try to stay out of the way and not make any waves.
Insert into this society a young woman, Caitlyn, who is the product of genetic experimentation resulting in a rather amazing deformity - wings. Having recently left her father, and the relative safety of her home in Appalachia, she is now hunted on all sides by those who want her body and blood for their own gain. She meets Razor, a mysterious young man who is a master of illusion. He offers his help, which she does not welcome. But when he helps her out of some tight spots, she is forced to trust him in order to survive.
There is a lot of back story prior to this book. Flight of Shadows is the sequel to Broken Angel, which I have not yet read. Of course, it was advertised on the back cover in the “About the Author” section that Flight of Shadows was written by the author of Broken Angel, but other than that little tidbit, it was not readily apparent that Flight of Shadows was a sequel until I started reading it. Therefore, in the beginning it was a bit confusing for me. The author, however, did a great job of filling in the gaps throughout the book without giving away all the details of the previous book. He still left enough unanswered questions that I am definitely going to read Broken Angel as well.
Most of the characters were very well developed so that I cared about them, or abhorred them, accordingly. Caitlyn’s character is complex and conflicted. Razor is mysterious and seductive. The villain of the story is very convincingly, and disgustingly, portrayed in all his evilness. The only exceptions were Caitlyn’s friends from Appalachia, with whom I had trouble connecting because I hadn’t been introduced to them in the first book, and they aren’t major players in this book until the near the end.
The story progresses at a good pace, with no time for the reader to get bored. Each chapter follows one of the characters, and then the next chapter takes over the story from another point of view. Most of the chapters are short, so it isn’t difficult to find a good stopping point. Then again, I had trouble putting it down when I saw that the next chapter was only a few pages long, and then the next one, and the next, too. So, like most good books, Flight of Shadows is quite compelling and suspenseful.
While the Christian worldview does not obviously dominate the book, it does provide much food for thought for the reader in ways that are often sorely lacking in much modern Christian fiction. Flight of Shadows brings forward the issues of the sanctity of human life, immigration, and other moral and societal issues. The world created by Brouwer is not as far-fetched as some would like to believe. It serves as a kind of warning of what our society could become if left unchecked. Though I haven’t read it yet, I assume that Broken Angel also contains such nuggets of wisdom, perhaps on the other side of the coin. While Flight of Shadows is set in a secular society, Broken Angel apparently takes place in Appalachia, a theocracy which seceded from the United States. I am curious to see what kind of atrocities can be found within this “godly” fictional nation.
Even despite the disadvantage of not having read Broken Angel, I thoroughly enjoyed Flight of Shadows and highly recommend it. Of course, it would be best, (and I recommend) reading Broken Angel first. Besides catching up with that book, I also plan to read more from Sigmund Brouwer in the future. Though I did receive a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for writing a review, I can honestly tell you that Flight of Shadows was well worth my time and yours. This book will have a permanent place on my bookshelf.
You can purchase the book here.