Title: Sick as Our Secrets
Author: Jim Christopher
Genre: Suspense / Urban fantasy
Sick as Our Secrets by Jim Christopher is the second in the Utopian Testament series. The novel follows Irene as her search for her brother, Wes, leads her to a strange marijuana farm where nothing is as it seems on the surface. Among those living on the farm is Emerson, a boy who wields the power to heal anyone, but Emerson isn’t the only secret the place hides.
Although Sick as Our Secrets is the second book in an ongoing series, the author provides plenty of backstory, so this story can be fully enjoyed without reading the first novel. However, the momentum built in this book creates a curiosity to read the first book to get the full story, and by the end of book two, knowing that at least a third book follows is enticing. Christopher leaves much unresolved, despite a pleasing climax and a deeply moving reconciliation among some characters. What needs to be resolved piques the reader’s interest, so it is not a matter of the book not delivering on a solid and compelling tale.
The author consistently utilizes rich and expansive language to provide detailed descriptions of the environment, the events, and the characters’ emotions and actions. Christopher’s command of English is strong and lends to deepening the fabric of the tapestry his story unfolds. From the first page, his narrative draws the reader into the action, and setting the novel aside is no easy feat. At times, especially when a lot of action is happening quickly, the reader may need to reread a few passages to make sure they don’t miss anything, but overall, the pace matches the events well.
Christopher tells the narrative through close-third changing points of view, which allows the reader to dive into several characters’ minds and understand their thought processes better. We are well acquainted with all major characters’ motivations and feelings before the climax, and this character-driven plot ensures the reader is well invested in caring about what happens to them.
Although Christopher’s novel is not unique in that a character has the ability to heal others, his setting of a marijuana plantation in Texas is distinctive. At first, the reader gets the impression that this is a simple marijuana farm. Even though a few early chapters give hints that something supernatural is at play, we do not yet realize the connection to the farm. The author does a superb job of weaving the hidden secrets and how Emerson, the boy who can heal, connects all the vital players. We soon discover who has Emerson’s best interests in mind and who doesn’t, yet the typical good and evil are not black and white. Nearly every character, except Emerson and the children who are his friends, are shades of gray. This lends to complex characters, and as stated earlier, given the multiple points of view, we are drawn in even closer to their motivations.
Sick as Our Secrets is a page-turning, compelling suspense novel with elements of fantasy that will please lovers of the genre. Jim Christopher is a master of creating interesting and complex characters who will draw the reader in. Sick as Our Secrets, being second in a series, is sure to sell the first book as well as the third.
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