on 29 September 2011
As a long standing fan of the Children of the Last Days series, I was delighted to finally get the chance to read Sophia's House, and it didn't disappoint.
O'Brien's style isn't the most compelling among contemporary authors, nor does he quite match such great story tellers as Geoffrey Archer, but what he does bring is a fascinating and riviting ability to bring some of the great truths of the spiritual life and weave them into some of the most significant events and trends of recent history through convincing characters. I found my own inner struggles and blessings echosed in events that unfolded in the book, and was left seeing myself more deeply and clearly than perhaps I would have liked! He has his pulse on the spiritual arteries of those of us born in the latter part of the 20th century, and places our struggles for holiness and meaning within the widest possible historical sweep - the Apocalypse.
Sometimes he does sacrifice the nuances of life as we actually live it to some of the stereotypes that make arguments easy. An example woud be the central character's struggles with homosexuality which isn't really explored as a lived experience but as an issue, as an evil to be simply resisted. The hero of the book resits, the characters that dont are creepy, nasty, manipulative, shallow etc. This is in contrast with his ability to portray sterotypically evil groups, such as Nazis, with considerable nuance so as to show redemption, humanity and goodness bursting through a messy, dark and oppressive world.
But at core this is a book that shows a particular man's soul as he is chased by his unseen demons, and finds the way to finally face them and so emerge as a truely heroic human being. This is what made the book INSPIRING, even if at times it dragged a little or seemed rather superficial. It is well worth pressing on and not getting distracted by those weaknesses because it is a book that wil actually open your mind to others, and yourself.