Book Review: Midnight Slaves by Rachael Eliker

Normally I do book reviews for non-fiction, and primarily for LDS focused books. However, I saw that Rachael Eliker*, a LDS friend of mine, wrote a teenage dystopian novel. I was interested in checking it out, and sharing my findings with MStar, where I know there are many people who enjoy good fiction.

Product Details

Imagine living in a perfect world risen from the ashes of global warfare. Everyone lives in New Haven, a city that has a perfect set of rules, the best of schools, great technology, and even robots that quietly clean your home as you sleep in your automated sleep pod.

It seems that every perfect world has a hidden secret, and New Haven is no different. When Jude, a promising young high schooler with a penchant for art, wonders what the cleaning androids look like, he is shocked to find out the real secret.

Midnight Slaves draws Jude into a hidden world of people used as chattel by the powers that be in New Haven. He struggles, as do others that learn of the secret, to decide between the comforts of continuing the lifestyle of New Haven, or attempt a coup to free those that are kept in servitude.

Midnight Slaves is well written with descriptions of people, animals and places flowing easily through its pages. The dialogue is natural and convincing.  The characters are believable and have a good depth of character developed. It is written with the modern reader in mind, lots of action and interaction. It definitely kept me engaged through the book with strong dialogue and action.  It is not a Tolkien novel of yesteryear that insists on using 10 pages to describe a meadow (there is nothing wrong with this, as I grew up reading and loving Tolkien’s world building).

There were just a few small issues that I had with the writing. Eliker notes frequently the poverty and deprivation the slaves live in, yet one of the slaves owns two horses, and others go into the local market where gold and silver jewelry are being sold. We also see some questions answered by a person-in-the-know, rather than allowing important facts and past events unravel naturally. Some of these things are told, rather than discovered by the characters and readers together.

For a first attempt at a dystopian teenage novel, Rachael’s offering is well worth the read. It is an engaging story, as it introduces us to two civilizations and the conflict that rages underneath the surface, bracing to explode at any moment.  I look forward to seeing the next volumes in this series.

 

*Rachael Eliker is mother of 4 children. She and her husband now live near Indianapolis, where they live on some acreage with 2 horses, chickens, cats, and whatever other animals interest them. Their home is an old, rustic (meaning: old and broken down) home that they have been fixing up over the last few years. She’s written a series of fictional books on horse racing previously. She has an active blog on homesteading at: http://therehomesteaders.blogspot.com/

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=rachael+eliker

Pearson’s Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Review

GhostCarol Lynn Pearson, who describes herself as one of the “wise-woman elders” of Mormonism, has written a book documenting how the specter of eternal polygamy pains those who have embraced Mormonism.

For many Mormons as old as me, Carol Lynn Pearson was *the* Mormon poet. Her poetic voice was clear and inspiring in her initial books of her poetry, widely quoted in Mormon circles. Her life appeared to be unusually graced until her beloved husband came out as gay. Pearson’s book about her husband was published in 1986, after her former husband died from complications related to AIDS.

Pearson started as precocious and innocent girl believing the promises of 1970s Mormonism and has arrived at the status of elderly and wounded woman, crying out to God and us listeners with her stories of how entitled polygamous patriarchy harms everyone, but particularly the female members of the Mormon tribe.

As a reviewer, I am simultaneously irritated with Pearson while applauding her clarity in pointing out the damage stupid beliefs about eternal polygamy can cause.

I am irritated because she sees Mormon plural marriage through a lens I no longer see as valid, a lens through which she describes Joseph Smith “taking” 30-40 wives, including some with legal husbands and at least one as young as fourteen. I would have rendered that phrase that Joseph Smith covenanted with ~40 women, including some with legal husbands and one woman who may have been as young as thirteen. But I would have pointed out that in every case that has been examined, the few children borne by these women during this time have been positively confirmed to be the biological children of the legal husband (with no confident reports that any otherwise unmarried women conceived at all). And I point out the vast sexual heresy that engulfed Nauvoo in 1841-1842, to which I posit Joseph was responding to by entering into covenants with associated teachings, covenants that appear to have been asexual for the most part.

Yet I applaud Pearson because the pain she describes is the very reason why I feel it is so critical to unearth the forgotten sins of our past, the truths it appears our pioneer forebears had righteously buried in full repentance before their Lord, Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Brigham Young on loving your enemies

In the “Discourses of Brigham Young,” page 272 it says the following:

Do I say, Love your enemies? Yes, upon certain principles. But you are not required to love their wickedness; you are only required to love them so far as concerns a desire and effort to turn them from their evil ways, that they may be saved through obedience to the Gospel (DBY, 272).

Discuss.

HERE is the source and some more quotations from the prophet to consider.

 

Huge number of new LDS stakes and districts being created in 2016

The constant refrain that the Church is not growing or is losing members because of policies that some people don’t like has never been less true than this year.

So far in 2016, the Church has added at least 72 stakes and 20 districts.  The Church is on pace to add more stakes and districts in 2016 than in any other recent year.

More information HERE.

I point this out because critics of the Church love to claim the opposite and will use anecdotal evidence that has nothing to do with the facts.

The usual disclaimer:  the Church is true even if it is not adding new members.  There may come a day when the Church does stop growing because we are by very definition a “peculiar people,” (i.e, different than the trends in the rest of the world).  But that day is not today.

Seer Stones: Meg’s Review

Seer StonesMichael Hubbard MacKay and Nicholas J. Frederick give us a delightful volume discussing Joseph Smith’s seer stones, exploring a portion of Mormon history that was excised along with the mortal practice of plural marriage among the Saints.

Here’s the gist:

Joseph and seemingly most of his colleagues used stones to see things that were otherwise hidden. This included his age peers, respectable members of the local community, and noted Protestant church leaders. When Mormon missionaries traveled to England, they found individuals in England who were similarly using stones to see hidden things. See pp. 158-159.

The Bible has a tradition of prophets seeing things in various miraculous ways, such as visions and dreams. But the ways God used to convey his wisdom also included such methods as writing on walls. The authors include a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn of Belshazzar’s Feast (1636), where writing appeared on the wall of the temple and was interpreted by the prophet Daniel (p. 119). The Bible also includes discussion of items used for divination or to see hidden things (the Urim and Thummim, the white stone John mentions in Revelation). Continue reading