What a mind absorbing, engaging and thrilling read.
‘Beyond The Hill,’ by Maressa Mortimer is a book for the film industry. I’m not a fan of dystopian novels but when I read the first in series, ‘Walled City’, I was hooked and eagerly read the ARC of this book, ‘Beyond The Hill’ which is second in the Elabi Chronicles. Though it is a second book in the chronicles, this book could be enjoyed as a stand-alone read. Readers will enjoy the author’s carefully chosen words which give a distinctive, vivid imagery.
The author has succeeded, in full flying colours, in her desire to explore how faith looks like in daily life through Macia. Readers who enjoyed George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty - Four’ will absolutely love this read, because Elabi citizens like in G. Orwell’s book are brainwashed in certain ideals wholeheartedly. Elabi citizens have no freedom to express certain emotions and they are constantly watched for faults.
Within the first two pages, the author throws the reader in to curiosity which gets heightened in the plot by the subtle introduction of Caecilia. Macia gets to read letters from Caecilia considered to be forbidden and mind poisoning but which is like Macia eating the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden. Like Adam and Eve, her eyes open to truth, enlightenment and wisdom. Macia becomes conscious of what she is missing in life and aware of the shortcomings of her society.
Suspense and tension grip the reader as Macia tries through various ways to hide her new found knowledge and disguise her secret desires and thoughts from family and society. Readers breathe through Macia’s feelings, her trials and live through her every experience of her emotions in her new faith. As in Anne Frank’s diary, we enjoy her diary excerpts written and imagined with God. Macia goes Beyond the hills and from this point, the book is a non –stop read!
I found Chapter 34 immensely powerful! It made me compare the strength of my faith to that of Ruth in the Bible and Macia! At the end of the story, readers will reflect like I did. Through this story, I’m reminded that it might be extremely difficult to break away from fear, bad habits, addiction, wrong company and wrong environments which are harmful to our spiritual and emotional well-being. BUT it can be done - with just a little amount of faith as small as a mustard seed in God!! Then one can move mountains like Macia did!
The best thing I loved about Macia, the heroine in this story, was her being thankful for everything, every situation, and keeping God, her new friend in the knowing! What a great lesson and a great book that refreshes one’s faith and makes Mark 11:23 come physically true: I assure you that whoever tells this hill to get up and throw itself in the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him!
A highly recommended read for anyone wanting to see what living in faith or living out of faith is like!
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Olusola Sophia Anyanwu