Review: Apr 1, 2014 by Victoria Ryan
A family legacy of witchcraft and abortion. Demonic control through a cameo necklace. Murders of infants and adults. Fascinating clues from Scripture, biblical numerology, and Marian visions. Time travel with a saint. Authentic friendships between laity and priests. Scenes of honest tension and titillating cliffhangers. The Bloodstone Legacy promises a smart, exciting thriller as illustrated in the excerpts that follow:
“I’m assuming you already know that Aaron was said to have carried the Urim and Thummim with him inside this breastplate. I’m sure you also know that the Urim and Thummim was considered a plural thing and that the translation of the words is ‘lights’ and ‘perfections.’ And you may even know the Urim and Thummim could have been used to cast lots, to find out the future and to communicate with God, right?” the rabbi asked.
The statue of Baal Hammon extended his hands with his palms up and his arms sloped down to the ground. “Why are his hands extended like that?” she asked Paolo. “You will see,” he answered.
“I found a little piece of ripped parchment paper with a warning scratched in red quill ink. It has a pentagram symbol on top. Below the symbol it says, ‘I’ll cease playing the critic when your brother and his friend cease playing God.’”
At 500 pages, The Bloodstone Legacy is an ambitious undertaking. Rossmann has created dozens of characters and effectively rotates them in and out of the spotlight, keeping subplots and the clues fresh in the reader’s mind. She writes about abortion procedures in a non-sensational way, allowing the reality to speak for itself. She tells us enough about characters to distinguish themselves, but leaves room for them to be developed further in the next two books. Rossmann also deserves credit for bringing pro-life issues to the fiction format, making it just as likely that a pro-choice reader would pick up the book and be influenced by it as anyone else (although labeling the work a pro-life trilogy on the back cover may deter some readers from considering it at all).
Unfortunately, there are weaknesses in the novel that, I believe, will keep the book from being the success it has the potential to be for Ms. Rossman.
The story is told by an omniscient third-person narrator with multiple point-of-view characters. There is no specific protagonist around whom the entire story is anchored (although Michael is purported to be)–no specific character for the reader to live the journey through. I often felt that I wasn’t experiencing the adventure along with the characters as much as I was hearing about what happened after-the-fact. There are times when the narrator gives unnecessary information (“Gabe is short for Gabriel”) and times when descriptions sound more like travelogues as when Father Raphael, Michael, and Linda—after many obstacles—finally reach the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was spectacularly colored depicting Mary in a long blue shawl as she stood pregnant bearing the baby Jesus. It is the only apparition of Mary in which she is “with child,” signified by the band above her waist. The name “Guadalupe” is a Spanish transliteration of the name the Virgin gave to Juan Diego in his Nahuatl tongue, which means “the one who crushed the serpent.”
Then there is the issue of dialogue that doesn’t sound authentic as when a college co-ed says, “You scared the stuffing out of me!” Nor was I impressed by a hero/protagonist who thinks (if the narrator can be believed) “that either this girl’s marbles were as loose as Debbie’s (a psychiatric patient) or she was just a beautiful talking head with nothing between her ears.” I also find it disappointing that so many characters—both children and adults—in a Catholic novel use “Oh, my God!” as their default interjection.
Character actions were not always credible either. During Cassy’s final counseling session, her psychiatrist “pulls out a bottle of champagne and two glasses to toast her improvement”—something that is unethical in real life and which does not advance the plot of the book. I don’t believe that an old-world Italian father, even if he is excited about finally having a bumper grape harvest, would call his son at seminary and tell him to come home to celebrate, that he deserves a vacation. Nor is it easy to believe that characters are fired up for their mission when they stop sleuthing to sleep and eat because they are tired and hungry, not because roadblocks clearly give them no other choice.
Even though the characters engage in the Catholic traditions of the rosary, adoration, and intercessory prayer; some portrayals of Catholics and Catholicism concerned me. When Father Mac dangles the crucifix of a rosary in front of Debbie, the quasi-exorcism has the effect of a cheap parlor trick. When Father Raphael encourages his dying father to make his last confession to him (even though his father has already said he is uncomfortable telling his sins to his son) Raphael comes across as insensitive and rule-bound. He could have told his father to just think about his sins rather than speaking them as I believe most priests would have done. Likewise, when Father Mac tells a series of white lies to gain access to clues, he does so without a token of remorse or any acknowledgement that he sinned. Because this story is a mix of reality and fiction, and our world a mix of spirituality and the occult, it’s important that the reader know exactly which elements (Marian visions; numerology; time travel, etc.) are fictitious and which accurately reflect the beliefs of the Catholic faith.
Lastly, there are mechanical errors (clichés, misspellings, punctuation errors, etc.) that detract from the overall effect.
As the first book in the trilogy, The Bloodstone Legacy carries the extra burden of first impression, of needing to be excellent not just for itself but to draw readers to the second and third books. Despite the creativity and the potential, I think the burden will be a challenge.
Publisher: Lux Caelestis Media LLC
Original Language: English