Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Songs of the Shenandoah by Michael Reynolds - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Songs of the Shenandoah
B&H Books (January 1, 2014)
Michael Reynolds

Michael K. Reynolds is a writer with more than two decades of experience in crafting fiction, non-fiction, journalism, copywriting and documentary production. He is the author of a series of Irish historical novels published by B&H Publishing Group. These highly acclaimed books are available in bookstores and libraries across the nation and beyond.

Michael is the writer and producer of an Emmy and Telly award-winning series of documentaries titled, Crystal Darkness. These thirty minute anti-meth films have been heavily promoted and broadcast in cities and states throughout the United States and Mexico. They have been viewed collectedly by more than 10 million people and the message has reached more than 30 million to date.

He also has wide experience as a speaker and on-air personality and has been interviewed on a variety of newspapers, radio stations and televisions networks throughout the nation. Michael earned his B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, San Diego and lives in Reno with his wife and three children. He is active in marketplace, marriage, small group and men’s ministries as a leader and speaker.


At the onset of the Civil War, Seamus heeds his wife’s wishes to return to her beloved family farm in the South, where he takes a post as chaplain for General Stonewall Jackson’s brigade. As Seamus ministers to the troops, his sister Clare ministers in a different way—by being a powerful voice in the Northern cause toward freeing the slaves. All this while their youngest brother Davin, who became wealthy during the Gold Rush, struggles to find love and identity in a fallen world. It’s a clash of loyalties and beliefs that threaten the entire family, each of them trying to hear God’s encouragement in the midst of the tragedy of war. The dramatic conclusion to the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland Series.

My Thoughts:
It seems we’re all preaching something unpopular these days,” Andrew put his arm around Clare.     
  (p. 10)

Andrew’s words were prophetic in many ways.  The Hanley children were all preaching powerful messages in their own way.  Seamus, Clare, Davin and Clare come together for a brief moment in time just as the Civil War is about to erupt in the United States.  They have been on different continents, on opposite side of the same continent and every variation in between when they finally reunite as a family.  What they all realize is that they all have made choices that have opened the door to work for causes much bigger than themselves.  In each instance those causes bring out both strengths and weaknesses in their character.  Their journey that begins as they reunite at a Christmas gathering in Clare’s home is unexpected, thrilling, challenging, heartbreaking and transformational!  Seems a bit much to state about a family, but Songs of the Shenandoah is a saga that is all of that and more!

Truly, this sounds like an exageration, but this is a magnificent book!  This family faces the most challenging of circumstance, and though the outcome isn’t always what they expect it to be, the view from the end is breathtaking!  Michael Reynolds makes use of every word, every detail, and he creates vivid scenes, emotional and spiritual responses, circumstances and challenges that truly transport you into the story.  Your heart will ache from the workout, but the experience is just phenomenal!  He even uses the minor characters like Jacob to touch your soul! 

On page 346 Davin and Jacob are facing one of the most dire circumstances in the story and when Davin asks Jacob how he is able to sing Jacob’s words ring out with victory: “My chains?  They was cut long ago and for all times. I ain’t get my freedom from no man.  And no man can take it from me.”  Like Andrew’s words on page 10, Jacob’s words in this passage are somewhat prophetic of the changes that await the family.

Oh reader, I cannot urge you strongly enough to read this book!! It is phenomenal!! The entire series is fantastic, but this is the finest finale I have ever read!! BRAVO Michael Reynolds! Bravo!!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Songs of the Shenandoah, go HERE.

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