Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CFBA Tour: Winter Haven

I'm back to blogging today with a plug for a book I really enjoyed: Winter Haven, by Athol Dickson. Here are the links, along with a bit about the author and the cover blurb. After that I'll give my take on the book.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Winter Haven

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)


Athol Dickson


Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.

Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler (Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit for more information.


Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.

What I thought: I've been a fan of Athol Dickson's writing since I read River Rising a couple of years ago. The man has a gift for setting the scene and approaching a story from unexpected directions. While I'm not sure that Winter Haven is quite the same quality as River Rising, it's still a very good book. Dickson turns his attention to a remote island off the coast of Maine and the secrets it holds. It's a place where nothing is what it seems to be and the reader, along with Vera Gamble, must discern what is true and what is false. A lot of the suspense hangs on perspective and it works well. I thought the resolution came a little too easily, but it was still satisfying.

I found that Winter Haven stayed with me after I read it, and I suspect it will stay with you, too. Along with a good suspense story (with a healthy helping of romance), Dickson explores themes of truth, trust, and dealing with the past. It's a page-turner (I read it in one sitting) with some meat to it. That's a rare accomplishment for a writer and part of what makes Athol Dickson one of the best writers of fiction (of any genre) around.

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