Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Through the Shadows by Karen Barnett

Posted June 2, 2016 by meezcarrie in Christian, giveaway, historical, Karen Barnett, romance / 11 Comments

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about the book

As San Francisco rises from the ashes, an age-old battle looms between corruption and the promise of new beginnings.

The devastating earthquake is just two years past, but the city of San Francisco is still trying to recover. Destruction of this magnitude is not so easy to overcome—and neither are the past regrets shadowing Elizabeth King’s hopeful future.

Hoping to right her wrongs, Elizabeth dedicates herself to helping girls rescued from slavery in Chinatown brothels, even if it means putting her own life at risk to sneak through the gloomy alleys and rooftops where dangers lurk.

Putting her life on the line for a worthy cause is admirable. But opening her heart is even more terrifying. So when Elizabeth meets attorney, Charles McKinley—a man who dreams of reforming San Francisco’s crooked politics—Elizabeth begins to doubt: Can she maintain her pretense and hide her past? Or will her secret jeopardize both their futures?

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SERIES: Golden Gate Chronicles #3
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Abingdon Press
PAGES: 320

“Elizabeth King held her fingers against the ivory keys, refusing to stir as the final chord faded and silence descended on the parlor.”

While written about the period in America just after the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, several of the social issues covered in Karen Barnett’s Through the Shadows are just as timely today. Immigration, social justice, human trafficking, racial prejudice. Any one of these could be ripped from the headlines on any given day in our newscasts and social media feeds.  Catching this glimpse from history of how there really is “nothing new under the sun” gives a fresh perspective on the world we presently call home.

It’s also a grace-filled perspective.  A redemption-filled perspective. And therefore, a perspective filled with hope.

Elizabeth King is running from her shame. Charles McKinley is running to get ahead. Both of these characters are compelling and relatable to each of us in some way.  Elizabeth represents so many of us who try to work for our forgiveness and hide our secrets. Charles appeals to any of us who have ever tried so hard to meet expectations that we start to lose sight of who we really are.

Elizabeth and Charles’ mutual running causes their paths to intersect, of course – first, over the King family legal dealings and second, in the Mission Home where Elizabeth is working with Donaldina Cameron to rescue young Chinese girls from the notorious Chinatown brothels. And it’s here especially, in these precious girls who have managed to still find sweetness and innocence and hope after all that has been taken from them, in Elizabeth’s past shame and her present calling, in Charles’ bravery and his humility, that the story shines brightest.  It’s also why it will linger with you when you’ve closed this book and moved on to the next. It might even motivate you to dig further into history… and walk through the present a bit more open-eyed and open-hearted.

Bottom Line: Courage, redemption, grace, and mercy permeate this novel!  As the city of San Francisco rises out of the ruins, beyond the ashes, and through the shadows, so too does the King family.  So too does Charles McKinley. And Elizabeth King. And the girls of the Mission Home. Along with the beauty of their stories, a sweet romance holds hands with intriguing (sometimes uncomfortable) historical detail and well-crafted writing to present a satisfying conclusion to the Golden Gate Chronicles trilogy.

Through the Shadows can be read as a standalone novel with no problems, but you will have a greater appreciation for the King family if you’ve been with the series from the first novel, Out of the Ruins.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Enjoyed it!

KissingBook Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion

Purchase a copy:

See what others are saying: Litfuse

about the author

karen barnett

Karen Barnett is the author of Beyond the Ashes, Out of the Ruins, and Mistaken. Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. When she’s not writing novels, she loves speaking at women’s events, libraries, and book clubs.

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Other Books by Karen Barnett

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through the shadows giveaway

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What about you? What appeals to you most about this novel?

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11 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Through the Shadows by Karen Barnett

  1. Andrea Stephens

    San Francisco is my husband’s favorite city. I like reading stories of how it and the people survived the earthquake, coming out of the ashes so to speak. I like how some people helped the less fortunate in unselfish ways.

    Gosh Carrie, I love your reviews, I don’t know how I will ever find time to read all the books I have on my wish list thanks to you. Keep up the good work, I’ll read as fast as I can 🙂

  2. Jan Hall

    There are many reasons I would love to read this book. Especially once I read “It’s also why it will linger with you when you’ve closed this book and moved on to the next. It might even motivate you to dig further into history… and walk through the present a bit more open-eyed and open-hearted.”

  3. Thank you, Carrie! That’s got to be one of the most thoughtful reviews I’ve ever received. I’m so glad you enjoyed Charles and Elizabeth’s story!

  4. Winnie Thomas

    Wonderful review, Carrie! Karen, your book sounds so fascinating. It’s on my TBR list, and I’m hoping to get to it sometime soon. Thanks for sharing your talents!

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