The Power and the Fury
(The Eden Chronicles)
By James Erith
Three kids are sucked into Biblical destruction as forty days and nights of rain threaten a rural town in England. These children are destined to greatness but first must make it through a harrowing adventure.
This is James Erith’s debut—a book to kick off a five part series. The second one is due out this April. Unfortunately, with his first book, there are many problems dealing with plot and characters.
To begin with, nothing really happens of any interest until we finally get to see things through the eyes of a dreamweaver—spider like creatures that give us our dreams, some of which are prophetic. Otherwise, he begins his tale haphazardly as if to introduce not only the characters but the beautiful scenery where it all goes down. I’m sure his intentions were good, wanting to share something idyllic and quite possibly lost nowadays, but ultimately that is the key here. Stories don’t flow like this anymore. Books are written with action in mind and none of that starts until much, much later.
Another flaw that hampers this story is the constant repetition. Every characters thoughts and actions are either repeated over and over in similar scenes, or echoed in the speeches given by others. For instance, the big, impending storm that will tear this town asunder is mentioned frustratingly by Isabella (one of the main three De Lowe kids) every chance she gets, only to be shunned and ridiculed. Clearly, this is to build up tension; however, we get every little conversation and word with each and every person who disagrees with her. We hear the same argument ad nauseum. Once is enough, to be followed by a summary of the rest, but that’s not how this story pans out
Another problem that seemed to correct itself about a fourth way through were the P.O.V. shifts. Many times we start in one person’s head only to jump to another. One scene the jumps out at me is at the daily announcements for the school, the headmaster thinks to himself about the students before him, before giving a speech about appearance. Then, we see a brief line or two from inside Archie’s head (another De Lowe kid) about his discomfort with this, and then, in we go again to the headmaster’s. Although, this problem resolved itself eventually, in the beginning it was rather jarring.
Later on, after having met a slew of characters, I was able to begin anticipating where I wanted the plot to go. However, at this point, I noticed some of these characters were slightly repeated forms of others characters, in particular, Sue. She is Isabella’s best friend who seems to get prophetic dreams as much as the De Lowes, and echoes everything Isabella does, becoming only a separate identity when Isabella starts acting severely out of character.
The one redeeming part and character is Cain. Somehow, whenever Cain appears the writing, character depiction, and dialogue are raised to a higher standard. Most of the time, I found myself desiring more of him and less of the De Lowes who are supposed to be the heroes, but act as unwitting dupes. I know kids like this exist, but as for protagonists in books, I want more.
I’d have to also say that another redeeming part is the bang-up cover and design. It is well done and only makes you want to hope for more on the inside.
What James Erith has set out to do is difficult. He’s imagining a large epic to update the holes in what happened after the Bible’s creation story and, possibly, to inform a new generation of things that were once quite commonplace. His ambition is admirable, but for the first book here, he should have done a rewrite, cutting and trimming. The book is an immense size and the old adage ‘Write and then cut 20%’ definitely is something he could implement to enrich, tighten, and, hopefully, bring about a more compelling tale.
You can check the book out, here.
And learn more about the author, here.