Light from Distant Stars
by Shawn Smucker
Published by Fleming H. Revell Company
Publication Date July 16, 2019
Genres: Christian Fiction
Setting: Pennsylvania Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-60, 1-14
Written for: Adults
When Cohen Marah steps over his father's body in the basement embalming room of the family's funeral home, he has no idea that he is stepping into a labyrinth of memory. As the last one to see his father, Cohen is the primary suspect.
Over the next week, Cohen's childhood memories come back in living color. The dramatic events that led to his father being asked to leave his pastoral position. The game of baseball that somehow kept them together. And the two children in the forest who became his friends--and enlisted him in a dark and dangerous undertaking. As the lines blur between what was real and what was imaginary, Cohen is faced with the question he's been avoiding: Did he kill his father?
In Light from Distant Stars, master story weaver Shawn Smucker relays a tale both eerie and enchanting, one that will have you questioning reality and reaching out for what is true, good, and genuine.
I would like to thank Netgalley, Revell, Shawn Smucker for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Light from Distant Stars is an amazing and masterfully told story! There are so many layers and so much mystery. It tells of the journey for the understanding and for the peace which has eluded Cohen for decades. Assaulted by feelings of guilt, he explores memories long buried.
The writing is beautiful in a melancholy way; prose turned to poetry. The imagery created by the words is haunting and poignant and was not overdone or tiresome. I found myself caught between wanting to luxuriate in reading, to slowly savor each word and wanting to hurry through to find out what happened next.
The subject matter was rather weighty and the overall tone was somber. At one point, I told my husband that it was interestingly creepy. Not because I like creepy – I don’t. While there were suspenseful elements to it, I don’t consider it to be a suspense story. While there was a mystery, that wasn’t the point of the book. The mystery was merely a vessel to transport the reader through the story.
If I was to pick an overarching theme, it would be one of redemption. As Cohen searched the archives of his mind for comfort and for answers, he was seeking absolution. I appreciated how the author demonstrated that by bringing our sins to the light takes away the power they have over us. How it is through confession fellowship is restored with God.
As a side note, the story is written in the third person present tense, except the portions where Cohen is examining his memories. This was surprisingly effective. If you’ve read many of my reviews, you may recall that I do not like present tense much. This was done so well, I didn’t even realize this until I was at least halfway through. It was a great way to separate the memory portions from the events of the “current” time (which was actually 2015).
I am looking forward to reading more books by Shawn Smucker.