Book 254: FLIGHT OF SHADOWS Review

Caitlyn Brown is not a typical young woman. She thought that she was deformed but has learned that she has been genetically modified. This modification allows her to extend and retract wings. Although she has made it “outside” she knows that she won’t be safe as long as the government is still hunting her. Flight of Shadows by Sigmund Brouwer continues Caitlyn’s quest for truth and help.

Flight of Shadows begins with Caitlyn working the night shift at a hotel in what was formerly known as Washington, D.C. This is now a walled city-state and only the “Industrials” (workers with minimal human and society rights usually sporting facial barcodes) and the “Influentials” (extremely wealthy) are found inside. What should have been a routine room cleaning becomes an attempt at subjugation and possible rape and results in proof of Caitlyn’s physical modification.

Unfortunately Caitlyn is on her own in the city and she is still being hunted by Casper Pierce (a National Intelligence or NI agent) and Mason Lee (a bounty hunter from Appalachia). Caitlyn knows that they don’t necessarily want her alive, they just want to harvest her eggs and possibly some blood. Her genetic modification is much more than just having wings, but only a few people are aware of how different she is compared to other “experiments.”

Theo and Billy are outside the city walls, working in a smelting factory and living in a soovie park. Apparently since cars are only owned and used by the “influentials,” the “illegals” (workers or refugees without rights) are residing in cannibalized SUVs, vans and minivans in soovie park ghettos. There’s no electricity in most “soovies” and running water is hard to find.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the sick are always at the mercy of “death doctors” that euthanize the ill and dying while hoards surround the occupied soovie to scavenge the dead’s property.

Although Caitlyn suffers greatly, she is fortunate to come across people always willing to help her. In Broken Angel she had Billy and Theo, and now she has Razer, a wealthy street-smart kid that helps her hide and escape detection by the NI. Flight of Shadows reveals more about Billy and Theo and spends a little more time discussing their trials while waiting to reconnect with Caitlyn. Mason Lee is still a bad guy on the hunt for Caitlyn, Billy and Theo. He also hopes to get revenge against Pierce for breaking his arm, forcing him to run and the suffering he incurred as a result of his run from Appalachia. 

The caste-like society is more prevalent in Flight of Shadows, and the disparity between the have and have-nots is highly visible. Although the city-states don’t govern as tightly as the religious leadership in Appalachia, the rules regarding the various castes are just as rigid and unjust. And like most societies, past and present, those with money are allowed to abuse the system at will. This dystopian future is shocking and abhorrent but regrettably one is able to see the seeds of this future being sown by present actions. Caitlyn does escape in the end and is joyfully united with her father, Billy and Theo. The program that created her is destroyed but will its destruction be permanent or is the government just biding its time before they begin again? Although Flight of Shadows is filled with abject poverty and grave injustices, it ends with hope and a sense of purpose. 

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 253: BROKEN ANGEL Review

Imagine a world in the not too distant future, with a truly dystopian big-brother-is-watching type of society. Add in a caste-like system in the new city-states in the United States, and a government sponsored, human genetic manipulation program. Now imagine that there is a sovereign theocratic “country” bordered by these city-states and you get just a hint of the setting for Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer.

Broken Angel is the first in the Caitlyn Brown series and focuses on the life of a young girl. Caitlyn knows that she is different and honestly believes this difference is due to her physical deformities. Her father, Jordan, has kept her relatively isolated but knows that she must venture “outside” Appalachia to receive the medical assistance she requires. The only things that can potentially stop their escape to “the outside” are the bounty hunters on their trail. Jordan forces Caitlyn to run by herself, hoping that she’ll stick to the map he’s provided and his instructions. He hopes to lay a false trail giving her time to get as far away as possible.

After Jordan is captured, Sheriff Mitch Carney acknowledges that all is not as it should be in his small town. People are required to carry vidpods (presumably similar to iPods) at all times to receive special notices and bulletins from their leader, Bar Elohim. Each town in Appalachia is limited in size to three thousand people, because smaller towns are easier to control. Cars are few and far between due to government fuel rationing. In addition, cars are equipped with monitoring devices so that the religious leadership can determine where a vehicle has been and/or monitor all conversations. There are no phones, no televisions and no contact with the outside. There is a death penalty for reading, owning books or teaching others to read. Horses and some people are chipped so that the leadership knows where they are or can track their movements.

Casper Pierce is a government agent from the outside sent into Appalachia to capture Caitlyn. He is assisted by a local bounty hunter and thug, Mason Lee. Pierce and Lee don’t get along at all and the situation is exasperated when Pierce intentionally injures Lee to make a point.

Deputy Billy Jasper has always done as told and the leadership told him to begin working as a deputy. He doesn’t know why exactly but goes with the flow. Unfortunately Billy gets caught between Caitlyn and some bounty hunters and reluctantly joins her in her quest to reach the “outside.” Theo is another runaway, a visually impaired, that is running from the harsh treatment received as part of his sentence to work in the factory. Billy, Theo and Caitlyn make for an unlikely trio but it works. Their fight to survive and elude the bounty hunters forges a strong bond of friendship and trust.

The idea of genetic modification is hinted at throughout the story, but I felt that the primary focus was on providing the groundwork for the next installment in this series. Broken Angel is a well-crafted dystopian read that openly discusses the problems with religion as a force majeure. The characters are all well developed. It’s difficult to discern the good guys from the bad guys for a while but it is important to take each person at face value because circumstances change rapidly and someone that might start off in a bad light becomes heroic. There’s a lot going on in this story and the subplots often overlap, but this never causes any confusion. Broken Angel starts a little slow but quickly picked up and kept me engaged until the end. Thankfully I was able to immediately begin reading the next installment in this series, Shadow of Flight.

Book 174: THE CANARY LIST Review

Imagine that there is true evil in the world in the guise of demons. These demons have the capability of possessing humans and perverting them to suit their needs. Now imagine that these possessed humans have infiltrated government and world religions including religious hierarchy. This is the world that 12-year-old Jaimie Piper and her teacher Crockett Grey have been pushed into in The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer.


Jaimie knows that there is someone or something after her and seeks protection from the only adult she feels she can trust, a teacher. Unfortunately that teacher is an unmarried male and he lives alone. Someone uses this to exploit the situation and remove Jaimie from Crockett’s protection under the guise of him possibly being a pedophile and in possession of child pornography. It doesn’t help that the one person that can attest to Jaimie staying outside of the home under the supervision of a woman, Crockett’s elderly neighbor Nana, has disappeared. Throw a very restrained child psychologist (Dr. Madelyne Mackenzie) into the mix along with an exorcist (Father O’Hare), the foster care system, Satanism, a crazed stalker, add in the Catholic Church and a comatose Pope and you’ve got a mess.


The underlying premise to this story is that Jaimie is genetically predisposed toward being sensitive to the demon-possessed. She is, in effect, the “canary” in detecting evil. Although there are others like her around the world, they are few and far between. These women have been used by the Catholic Church for centuries to ensure that evil does not gain a hold on the church, especially its cardinals or would-be popes. The intrigue involved in uncovering who is and isn’t evil within the church and their individual motives and power struggles made for some interesting reading. I had difficulty accepting the author’s premise (yes I know it is fiction) that demons are using priests to exploit children as the excuse for the church-related pedophilia cases. The action was all over the place, much like a rollercoaster ride. At times it was hard to keep track of all of the scheming as well as plot twists and turns. I won’t tell you how it ends but the ending left me saying “what?” and wondering what exactly had happened. The only characters that seemed realistic were Jaimie and Crockett. They had their flaws and frailties and weren’t afraid to show them. This, in my opinion helped to show their humanity. The others were somewhat flat and seemed to be more caricatures than characters. The Canary List isn’t a bad story nor was it badly written but there was just something that kept it from being little more than a decent read.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through Blogging For Books. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”