The Secret in Belfast by Charity Bishop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Charity Bishop is a self-published author, and her latest book is available on Amazon, HERE. Please consider purchasing it as a means of supporting her efforts, and if you do purchase it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon (and Goodreads if you have an account).
It is an exhilarating time for Harland and Wolff, the ship-builders of Titanic. Their finest creation is being completed under the careful guidance of Thomas Andrews, and the ship will eventually set sail towards its inevitable tragic end. Parallel to the building of Titanic runs another story, this time a story of magic and deceit, of good and evil, and the remarkable Gift of a young man named Richard Pierce. He is an Influencer who can calm the minds and hearts of those around him and influence them to his bidding, if he so chooses. A dangerous magical device known as the grimoire, believed to be destroyed by the Conclave, a group of the Gifted to which Richard belongs, has gone missing. Richard must find it before the evil power it wields falls into the wrong hands. Richard works alongside Thomas Andrews and a young woman named Isabel in search of this object that could rip the world apart with its evil. However, not everything is as it seems, and before the end, Richard must face evil from an unlikely source and defeat it or die in the attempt.
If you’re looking for the typical Jack-and-Rose-on-the-prow-of-Titanic love story, you’re not going to find it here. That concept has been done nearly to death, and none quite so well as James Cameron. Instead of going with the mundane and ordinary, Ms. Bishop has transformed the story of Titanic into a marvelous representation of speculative fiction. My poor summary hardly does the story justice. It can’t cover the humor with which she has crafted Thomas Andrews or the spiritual discernment of Richard Pierce or the playful sarcasm of her heroine, Isabel. What it can do is give you a taste of a story that turns Titanic on its head, all with the intention of offering spiritual discernment without preaching too hard at the reader, a difficult task for even the best Christian writer.
In a word, I loved it. Books written from the male perspective have always intrigued me, and Richard Pierce is a stunning male protagonist that feels genuinely male, as if he were written by a man, which is one of the highest compliments I can offer. My favorite character turned out to be not the one I expected, but I dare not give you the name for fear of spoilers. Perhaps my favorite will be yours as well. One of Ms. Bishop’s highest achievements is her talent for creating strong pastors. Ministers in the hands of secular writers are inevitably found guilty of some secret sin or other, utterly hypocritical and deceptive. In Ms. Bishop’s hands, pastors stand strong in the face of sin and evil, wielding the power of God before them verbally and physically. They are men of compassion, strength, and virtue . . . men of great faith. That is where her true achievement lies, and her ministers always leave me eager for her next novel.
Titanic was a tragedy. It grieved the hearts of families who lost loved ones and continues to grieve those of us who care enough to research the reality of the event. Ms. Bishop took the greatest of care with her research, and the end result is inviolable. Even though the story deals in magic and spiritual gifts, the details of Titanic’s building and the reality of the historic characters are true to the last detail. This book is not entirely about Titanic, but more about salvation and the belief that it is never too late for someone to find redemption. Within The Secret in Belfast you’ll find haunted houses to terrify you, specters to chase through your dreams, and ultimately, redeeming grace. This is speculative fiction at its finest hour with a strong hero and heroine and one of my favorite secondary characters in contemporary fiction. Lose yourself in this glorious story, just as I did.
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