Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Donna Fletcher Crow's A Darkly Hidden Truth ~ Reviewed

By Donna Fletcher Crow
Paperback: 366 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
January, 2012
ISBN: 9-780857-210500


Felicity can’t possibly help Father Anthony find the valuable missing icon. She’s off to become a nun. Then her impossible mother turns up unexpectentanty. And a good friend turns up murdered…

Breathtaking chase scenes, mystical worship services, dashes through remote waterlogged landscapes, the wisdom of ancient holy women, and the arcane rites of the Knights Hospitaller keep the pages turning. Will Felicity choose the veil—or Anthony?


A Darkly Hidden Truth is beautifully written and starts with perhaps the most chilling prologue I’ve ever read. (One readers won’t want to skim over!) The novel opens with a scene of a young medieval maiden giving her life to Christ. At first, my pulse quickened and a sick feeling settled in the pit of my gut as I questioned exactly what her devotion might cost. Old Indian Jones images flashed through my mind, stealing my breath. By page two I could breathe once again as I realized this young maiden wasn’t embarking upon self-sacrifice but instead, a life of religious isolation. But although my gut-wrenching fears were allayed, my curiosity was not. As the mother said goodbye to her beloved daughter, her internal quote, plucked from the ancient pages of Scripture, triggered numerous questions. When this sorrowful mother asked for prayer, she suddenly understood an ancient prophesy given to Mary, the mother of Jesus,: “Simeon had warned Mary that a sword would pierce through her own soul. Now Dorcas knew: that warning was not just for Mary. It was for all mothers.”

Moving from this ancient and mysterious scene to modern day, we meet a woman as removed from her mother as the previous maiden was from the world. Felicity, a young and impulsive girl drawn to the church and the simplistic, solemn life it offers, contemplates becoming a nun. Unfortunately, a string of murders and the theft of numerous sacred icons complicate matters, as does the sudden appearance of her mother.

Dressed in three-inch heels and a pinstripe suit; Felicity’s mother trails behind a religious ensemble, tracking her daughter down. In front of everyone—those with the power to admit Felicity into monastic life, or keep her from it. Now Felicity is forced to swallow the bitterness welling inside in order to present a pious, loving attitude. But when another icon is stolen and a nun is found unconscious and bloody, Felicity soon realizes her mother’s sudden and rather inconvenient appearance is the least of her problems.

I loved the imagery Ms. Crow provided throughout the novel, from the gothic windows to the rolling monastery grounds. The setting was quite unique—a series of murders and mysterious thefts in a church? As a protestant, it was very interesting to read about the various sacraments and holy days practiced in the Catholic Church and each glimpse and nugget of information was sprinkled seamlessly into the novel, flavoring the story without overpowering it.

A Darkly Hidden Truth is a gripping, multi-leveled mystery with a hint of romance and family drama. 

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery


Donna Fletcher Crow said...

Jennifer, thank you for the amazing review! It's rare for even very careful readers to "get" so clearly what I'm trying to say.

Just so we won't confuse readers, though, I need to point out that Felicity and Antony are Anglican (like Episcopal), not Roman Catholic--therefore the possibility of a romance with a priest.

Scribbler said...

I enjoyed Donna's novel about Glastonbury and look forward to this one, especially since the reviewer mentions the Knights Hospitaller. I first learned of their history on a visit to Malta a few years ago and found them intriguing.
Ann Gaylia

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the clarification and for stopping by! I look forward to reading the next novel in this series!

Sheila Deeth said...

This sounds great. I shall definitely have to look out for it. Thanks.