#3: The Shadowed Onyx
A moving story
This is book three in the series titled Diamond Estates. I have not read the others but will as soon as I can! This is considered a teen novel and series but even an adult will enjoy the story. There is depth to the characters and the real life situations draw you into the story. You cannot help but cheer on the young lead characters! I gave this book 5/5 stars. I liked the writing style as it was easy to read without being simplistic. I thought the characters were intriguing and really helped the story flow from one scene to the next. I would recommend this book to any teenager looking for a Christian fiction novel to enjoy!
I would like to thank the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
June 3, 2013
Bravo for this series that deals with tough stuff
Joy is having a tough time dealing with her best friendÃ¢ÂÂs suicide. SheÃ¢ÂÂs looking for answers. And when some friends suggest she call on a spiritual guide, that guide appears in the form of a white wolf. At first, the wolf comforts Joy, but the longer they are together, Joy comes to learn that the wolf will not tolerate prayer to Jesus. The more Joy wants to reclaim her faith in God, the more the wolf attacks her life. Her only hope lies with the staff at Diamond Estates, but if they canÃ¢ÂÂt stop the wolf from having his way, who can?
This was a fascinating and all-too-real look at what dabbling in the occult can do in your life. Scary. SÃÂ©ances and talismans opened up JoyÃ¢ÂÂs heart to the occult, and she gave it too much freedom. JoyÃ¢ÂÂs sorrow and depression was very realistic. She didnÃ¢ÂÂt seem to know how to communicate her problems, even when she had a counselor and parents who were trying their best to help. But this was a book that was full of hope in the end. I applaud Nicole OÃ¢ÂÂDell for this amazing trilogy that shows girls the one hope that can turn their lives around. Bravo! If you havenÃ¢ÂÂt read the other books in the series, be sure to check them out.
February 2, 2013
Joy from the Shadows
Teenager Joy Christianson always was the life of the party, but all that changed when her best friend committed suicide. Now all Joy wants is to reconnect with Melanie. She wants to know WHY. She needs closure. When some of her new friends tell her how she can find these answers using a Ouija board, Joy is torn between thinking itÃ¢ÂÂs a game and being creeped out, but she canÃ¢ÂÂt resist the lure.
She slips deeper into the occult as she seeks meaning in her life. The old answers from her parents and her church donÃ¢ÂÂt seem sufficient any more. As depression and oppression take hold, any sort of meaning slides further and further away.
But all hope is not lost. What will it take to jolt Joy into a new path, one where she genuinely seeks help? Even a trip to Diamond Estates, a home for troubled girls, is not an easy cure. But with GodÃ¢ÂÂand people prayingÃ¢ÂÂthere is still hope.
The Shadowed Onyx is the third (and final) book in The Diamond Estate series for teen girls. Each story features a girl whoÃ¢ÂÂs lost her way and seeks help in regaining her faith. These are not simplistic stories where, once you pray, everything becomes all better. Life isnÃ¢ÂÂt usually like that. Our struggles are real. However, there is always hope, and each of these books also provides that in abundance. All three of these books are highly recommended for the teen girls in your lifeÃ¢ÂÂgirls who know that life is complicated and often difficult, girls who are facing huge challenges, girls who need a road map through their trials to hope. The Wishing Pearl deals with drinking and driving and abuse. The Embittered Ruby is about teen pregnancy, gang activity, and manipulation. The Shadowed Onyx, as mentioned, takes a hard look at the occult. These stories do not glorify the negative lifestyles, but use them as a backdrop to paint hope in bright colors.
I admit to being biased. Nicole OÃ¢ÂÂDell is one of my critique partners and writing buddies. IÃ¢ÂÂve seen this story (and series) develop from a mere gleam in NicoleÃ¢ÂÂs eye. She has not only a rare talent, but a driving passion for helping teen girls make wise choices.
December 17, 2012
Christian YA Approach to spiritualism
Joy Christianson lives in the sleepy Nebraska town of Ogallala. Last week, Joy went to visit her best friend, Melanie, and instead found her body. She had committed suicide, and now Joy wants to know why (and, really, who can blame her?). Joy has also had to deal with breaking up with Austin, her friend since childhood and boyfriend for the last year. Joy has also lost her faith, although her Down syndrome cousin, Beatrice, tries to remind her about right and wrong in her own innocent way. Now Joy has befriended Raven, one of the bad girls in school, because she wants to distance herself from Melanie and AustinÃ¢ÂÂs friends.
First up, I have to say that the opinions expressed in this review are that of the parent, not the Young Adult audience that The Shadowed Onyx is aimed at. I was one of those teens who was hypothetically interested in the spirit world, but who always knew (despite not having a Christian upbringing) that messing with things like Ouija boards was not a good idea. Either they knew fake (and therefore a total waste of time) or they were real, and therefore not something we should be messing around with.
As an adult, I can soon see that Joy is suffering from case of survivor's guilt (but to tell you why might spoil the plot). I don't know if a teen would see this underlying issue, or if it would just go over their head. The story is all written in the third person, from Joy's viewpoint. The narrative does seem a bit juvenile, but that could just be the adult me talking.
Teenagers are fascinated with the concept of the spirit world, and The Shadowed Onyx is a solid Christian response (although it got uncomfortably close to crossing the line at some points). The author writes with a sense of authority around the spiritual content, while at the same time, she has captured the uncertainty of youth without being moody or melodramatic. The Diamond Estates series is based on her experiences as a resident at Teen Challenge as a teenager, and this experience comes through in the writing.
It shows there is power in the language we use. 'Spiritual' sounds so much better than 'satanist', and 'contact' less scary than 'haunt'. But I have two concerns with The Shadowed Onyx. First, parts of the story skate very close to the line, and could almost be seen as a 'how-to' manual. More worrying, a very innocent or undiscerning teenager might not see that this is written from a Christian worldview, and might be encouraged to take the same path as Joy--and for the first half of the novel, Joy's thoughts and actions are quite anti-Christian. And the story is told exclusively from Joy's viewpoint, so there is no indication that she is being lied to and that her actions are wrong.
"She wasnÃ¢ÂÂt afraid of the dark anymore; in fact, she preferred it. Light was unnecessary because it only revealed half the picture, if that. It crowded out the truth rather than illuminating it."
In reading this, it's quite easy to see how a vulnerable teen can be seduced by the power of the dark side, and how well it masquerades as light. As with all the most convincing lies, it is based on the truth. This is a very good novel, and one that many parents of teens would benefit from reading, but it is a story I would recommend to others with caution. Although it is the third book in the series, it is a stand-alone story.
Thanks to Barbour Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
December 6, 2012