The Shadowed Onyx by Nicole O'Dell
Barbour Books, 01 December 2012
At age seventeen, Joy Christianson is the life of the party. That is, until her best friend commits suicide. Joy’s already wavering faith slips completely out of her reach. Afraid of letting the depression and evil take root, she decides to seek help in the haven of Diamond Estates—and try to reclaim the Joy she once knew.
This is the third book in the Diamond Estates series, but it can be read as a standalone book. Which is what I did.
After Joy's best friend commits suicide, she embarks on a search for answers. What seems like harmless dips into the spiritual realm initially brings her comfort. Ms. O'Dell has done a good job of showing how satanism can be masqueraded as harmless and called many things far less sinister sounding than "satanism". But things soon get crazy out of control for Joy and she finds herself afraid and in real danger. And the worst part of it all is that she can't see anyway out of it.
Ms. O'Dell has written this book well, and it had me gripped and interested all the way through. I could feel Joy's despair and hopelessness, yet I was constantly hoping and egging her on toward the freedom that was there for the taking. My heart rose and fell with Joy's, through the oscillating between hope and despair.
One thing I didn't find plausible was the reason behind Joy's best friend's suicide. And the object of the book's title doesn't see a proper finish.
But otherwise The Shadowed Onyx is an intriguing book and I was moved at times throughout it.
A book like this is always going to be controversial. I've never read anything like it before, particularly in the Young Adult genre, but I'm guessing there are far too many teens out there feeling as trapped as Joy, and they need to know there is a way out of the occult. If it can help those people, then that's great.
However, this book might do well with a warning about the strong dark spiritual content. I'm not sure every teen aged reader would be able to handle reading this book (maybe even some adults!), and I certainly wouldn't openly recommend it to them. In fact, I might go so far to say that any teen who reads it should do so with a Christian adult who can ensure they didn't get the wrong message from it. I think it can be too easy to be enticed into the spiritual realm and teenagers can be rather selective in the message they hear.
But I do think this is an important book to have been written, and I applaud Ms. O'Dell for taking on the challenge. I definitely recommend this to adults, particularly parents of children and youth workers. It's good to be aware of the dangers of the occult and be able to educate children on it.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review. I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.
Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element. She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA. She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.
Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.