Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Covered Deep Reviewed

I was first captured by the title. Then the cover. Then the blurb.

Then I heard this book was 14 years in the making. Fourteen YEARS.

I alternately wanted to weep and gape at the literary genius I was certain these pages would contain . . .

I was not disappointed.

The Heroine: Bianca Marshal
An exceptionally intelligent and adventurous country girl from Ohio, who reads everything she can get her hands on and longs to see the Holy Land almost as much as she longs to meet her knight in shining armor. I liked Bianca, though my first impression of her was bordering on "flibbertigibbet." Then I started seeing similarities between her and me (self-incrimination?), so I gave her a break. :) She had a LOT of growing to do as a heroine, but she braved out her journey and grew into a character to be proud of.

The Hero:
I was guessing about the identity of the true hero of this story until around the halfway point, so I'm not going to give away who he is exactly. Suffice it to say he's an incredibly deep, rounded, perfectly flawed character, and is, at this point, one of my TOP FIVE favorite heroes. He's mysterious, smart, an expert in his field, a man of devotion, but with a harrowing past and thus extremely vulnerable. Deep down under everything else, he's sweet as homemade peach cobbler.

The Setting:
I was awed by the scope of this novel. So many robust historical settings to take in. A Portsmouth, Ohio farmhouse. A London mansion. The British Museum. A luxury cruise ship. The gates of Jerusalem. An ancient Turkish mansion. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Sea of Galilee. I know I'm forgetting something. I'm telling you, the journey was rich, and one of the six main characters is a historian, so you've got a knowledgeable tour guide to sweeten the experience.

The Baddies:
I genuinely liked some characters who turned out to be so desperate and wicked, it surprised me. The one I thought was the mastermind, was only a pawn. But that is one of the themes we'll look at below: discerning truth from falsehood. One of the "villains'" fates was unclear to me, and I would have liked to know whether he lived or died or found redemption. Therein is the novel like real life: not all the characters' lives are perfectly tied up with a bow by the end. I was impressed with the plotting and motives of these villains, however.

The Plot:
The mystery, the history, the glistering little details that connect them all. The reader never knows what's coming next or who will do what. I especially enjoyed that volatility, and it kept me reading into the night.

The Prose:
Ms. Vallance leads the reader through myriad senses and emotions with a beautifully poetic, descriptive style I expected to eventually find cumbersome, but did not in the least. I'm looking forward to more of her novels. I only hope I don't have to wait 14 years for the next one. ;)

The Themes:
Discernment, Redemption, Forgiveness. The examination of these subjects in this work was poignant and powerful. Never overtly trite, but played out in the characters' actions and emotions. The inter-workings of all the characters' motivations and goals was mind-boggling to try and figure out (though fully explained by the end), so I just kept reading instead and enjoyed the story in bite-sized bits as the master plot unfolded.

The End:
I admit, I wish the ending would have lasted longer. Thinking back, I don't know that there was anything more to be said, but I'm one of those types who like to bask in the afterglow when things are finally (mostly) right with the world again. I read on after the last page and soaked up the acknowledgements and author's note, both of which added to the poignancy of turning the last page.
Overall Effect: 
I have the strongest urge to speak with a British accent after reading this novel, even though the heroine is American. I also can tell the author spent years perfecting this work. The vivid descriptions, the spot-on emotions, the character development . . . Kind of makes me despair of ever writing something this good! I'm so happy to have read it, though, and can't wait to see what else comes from the pen of Brandy Vallance.

I loved the journey of this novel so much, I'm giving away a paperback copy! Don't worry, I'm keeping a copy for my keeper shelf, too. ;)
  • To enter: follow my blog using the button in the right sidebar, then comment letting me know you followed. 
  • So I can contact you if you win: Include your email address in the following spam-free format: email (at) address (dot) com.
  • For an extra entry: tell me your favorite film version of a Biblical character's story (Esther, David, Moses, etc.) or a period drama (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Pimpernel, North & South, etc.) 
GIVEAWAY ENDS: Saturday, January 31, 2015.
If you can't wait on winning the paperback, the e-book is on sale for $1.99 right now for Kindle you can buy it HERE.


  1. Natalie, I'm now a follower on your blog. I would love the opportunity to win this book. Thank You.


  2. I already followed :D
    I loved this review! It really made me want to read the book! Thanks for the giveaway! My email is ashley(dot)perham(at)icloud(dot)com. Also my current favorite period drama is North and South!

  3. Reading it right now, I just got to meet Brandy Vallance, and she's super nice. I'm only halfway through The Covered Deep, but I can't wait to see what happens.

  4. Hi, CHRISTY! Thanks for commenting! Best wishes in the giveaway!

  5. ASHLEY!! Hey, girl! I LOVED reading this book and only wish it was longer so I could still be reading it!

    I have been "craving" to watch North and South for the last month or two!!! :) I first watched it on, but it's not there anymore, so I'm shopping for it online and in thrift stores, looking for the best deal. (I'm a bargain addict!)

    I've especially been wanting to watch it since I saw the last Hobbit movie. I want to see Richard Armitage as a character with a happier end. :)

    I'm entering you in the contest and will make sure to include an extra entry for the North & South reference!!! :)

  6. Hi, DEANNA! Welcome to the Sweet South Blog! I was loving the book already at the halfway point, then things started getting REALLY interesting!!! I know you'll enjoy the rest of the book!

  7. I'm now a follower! Book sounds great! jarning67athotmaildotcome.

  8. Hi Natalie! Great review. Brandy is a new author to me, so I haven't read any of her work. Your review, however, makes me want to change that.

    When watching movies, I tend to be old school. One of my favorites is the original version of The Ten Commandments. The parting of the Red Sea has always been one of my favorite scenes. :)

    I followed your blog and also signed up for your newsletter. Please enter me in the drawing. My email address is:


    Thank you! Have a great week! :)

  9. I'm a follower of your blog. Thank you for the chance to win, as it sounds exceptionally good. I love watching old Biblical movies and time period ones. I love The Grapes of Wrath. Have a blessed day.

  10. Like the heroine, I long to visit Israel, and since it is definitely a desire of my heart, I expect to one day :) In the mean time, I'd love to read this novel. You've given an awesome review, Natalie! Blessings to all from Texas!

  11. Hi Natalie,
    What a great & detailed review (without spoiling anything!)
    Don't books like those make you despair as a writer! I feel like that whenever I read some of my favorite authors!

    I'd love to win a paper copy (but I'm in Canada so may not be eligible).

    Have joined up for your blog! Thanks!
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  12. Hi, Joan! Best wishes in the contest!

  13. Hi, Angi! This book was the first I'd read by Brandy. I think it might actually be her debut novel, which blows my mind. In my book, this one ties with Chasing the Lion for Best Debut Novel I've ever read. And we both know how good CTL is! :)

    I haven't seen The Ten Commandments in a long time! Makes me want to watch it again.

    I'm giving you three entries, since you signed up for my newsletter! Thank you so much!!! Best wishes in the contest!

  14. Hi, Lucy! I've never seen The Grapes of Wrath. I'll have to catch that one sometime. I've got you down for two entries. Good luck! Thanks for coming by!

  15. Hi, Caryl!!! I've always thought visiting Israel would be amazing, too. Thank you for the kind words! I'll put your name in the drawing!

  16. Hi, Susan!! I know! It's especially confidence-draining when I've just birthed my ugly, illogical, messy first draft. Right now it's hard to think that mine will ever grow up to be something as beautiful as this one! :) But I hear that what we read influences what we write and can help grow us as writers, so I'm definitely hoping some of that expertise rubbed off on me during the reading of TCD. :)

    Best wishes in the drawing!

  17. Sounds great! Would love to win this one. I followed your blog. :)
    lynsow (at) yahoo (dot) com

  18. Wow. This story sounds amazing.
    Count me in! You know I've subscribed. And I'm pretty sure you have my email. ;)

  19. Hi, Lynette!!! Got your entry! Best wishes in the giveaway!

  20. Courtney! I couldn't put this book down! I'll put your name in the drawing!!!

  21. Thanks so much for your kind comments, everyone! Wow! I hope you all get the chance to read The Covered Deep. May the story whisks you away to 19th century England and the Holy Land and leave your heart all aflutter! Happy reading! <3 And PS, Natalie. I listened to the North and South soundtrack while writing the ending of TCD. Northbound Train....sigh.


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