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Three strands of character come to interweave themselves ever more closely in this exciting faith-based suspense novel. Chase, an autistic artist, together with his mindful and concerned sister, Chelsea, and Chase’s insightful helper, Wes, form a strand that is permeated with love, not least that which is bestowed on all those around him by Chase. Another strand is that formed by the rising musician, Promise, who is determined to leave a lasting legacy for the world when she dies from the debilitating effects of the cystic fibrosis that is devouring her body, though not her spirit. The final strand is composed of Porta, an aging witch, and her son, Zack, who is at odds, not only with her, but sometimes, it seems, with all whom he encounters. The characters are all strongly drawn, and contrast markedly with one another, yet blend together so well that, ultimately, their inextricability from each other seems inevitable.
Each of the strands is affected in some way by a malady that renders it physically, emotionally and spiritually vulnerable to negative impacts from elements outside its immediate sphere. Yet, what renders it most susceptible to such influence also enables it to survive, although in altered form, and to become more truly whole. The Promises She Keeps has been criticized for not being more overtly Christian in its message, as only one of its characters, Chase, ever expresses himself in such a way—after all, he has memorized four different translations of the Bible, so that it is only fit that he tends to utter biblical verses to evince his innermost feelings. The themes of the novel are where the Christian timbre of the work emerges most distinctly, though. The redemption that can be attained through sacrificial love, innocence, the nature of life and death, as well as good and evil, are all central elements of this taut and well-paced, yet thought-provoking, work.
Just as the underlying message of this book resonates throughout the whole, so, too, does the concern of the main characters with some aspect of the arts. Chase draws all whom he encounters as trees—whether good or bad. Wes, for instance, he sees as “a good presence, an emergent rainforest tree with sprawling buttress roots that rested on the top of the soil”, whereas the malevolent presence of Porta he sees as “an alien species, a noxious weed that did not belong on the Shore with the people he loved.” The artistic concerns of the other two strands—music and modeling in the case of Promise, and the visual arts and photography in the case of Porta and Zack—are more self-serving than Chase’s talent that he strives to share with all around him. The inclusion of various forms of art in The Promises She Keeps, apart from being central to the overall plot, gives added strength to the story and broadens the vista that Erin Healy opens up for us.
Truly a remarkable book in many ways, the work has already garnered a large audience, due to its falling into a number of different genres—mystery, suspense, alternative romance, Christian fiction, and the esoteric. No wonder that it has such a wide appeal, which, when complemented with a style that is highly accessible and smooth-flowing, makes The Promises She Keeps a read not to be missed.
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