Disclaimer: The Innocent by Ann H. Gabhart was provided by Revell in exchange for an honest review.
Carlyn Kearney has spent two lonely years not knowing whether to mourn or to hope after she receives word from the Union Army that her husband is missing. When the war ends without further word, Carlyn finds herself penniless, in debt, and forced from her home. With nowhere else to go, she seeks refuge at the Shaker village of Harmony Hill. The Shakers profess peace through simply living, but to Carlyn, the Shaker life seems anything but simple. When mysterious deaths disturb the peace of the village, Carlyn falls under intense scrutiny. Can a kind sheriff help her expose the true culprit?
The Innocent gives an interesting look at the Shaker life, which I must admit I didn’t know about except for a brief mention in Robert Newton Peck’s book A Day No Pigs Would Die. It was interesting to see what they believed and how Carlyn managed to live among them when they had such radically different beliefs from hers.
However, The Innocent is, quite frankly, boring, and it plods along noticeably. Even the attempts at mystery and tension fall flat, since they are spaced far apart and in between the same things happen over and over: Carlyn wonders how she will ever manage to live with the Shakers when they have such different beliefs, she thinks about Ambrose, she thinks about the sheriff, she thinks about her dog, and she acts like a shrinking violet. Then there’s an interlude where the sheriff thinks about how beautiful/strong/alluring Carlyn is and then talks to her dog. Then there’s some sort of tension or mystery, then the same pattern repeats.
I honestly could not stand Carlyn as a character. She was too squishy for me. She had a sort of faux-strength about her, as if the author wanted us to think she was a strong character but ended up just showing us how much Carlyn isn’t strong, in many ways. If something more exciting had happened in the novel, maybe I wouldn’t have thought that Carlyn was so vanilla, but she plodded along just as the plot did. And the romance was beyond predictable and, as a result, boring.
The Innocent, though with an interesting look at Shaker life and history, is ultimately boring. The mystery is stretched out way too much (and not completely resolved, to boot); the characters do and think the same things over and over; the romance is uninteresting; and I had to fight to actually finish the book.
My rating: 1/5
Warnings: Some violence, death.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian
You can buy this here: The Innocent: A Novel