Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Release Spotlight: Illuminated

Illuminated, by Matt Bronleewe

This mystery thriller disappoints in more ways than one. On the heels of The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure, Illuminated had the opportunity to ride the treasure hunt trend and to enchant readers with further tales of secret societies dating back to medieval times. What’s more, the premise of the book, based on Gutenberg’s Bibles and codes hidden within their illuminations, invites bibliophiles to revel in a story created just for us.

The book opens with a scene depicting Johannes Gutenberg as he is warned about the heretic creating chaos in the streets and the new age the man’s death will bring. We then jump forward to a time when people are not scolded for speaking on cell phones on airplanes. August Adams, a rare-book broker, is transporting one of three Gutenberg Bibles when the beautiful woman sitting next to him reveals the plot to kill August’s son, Charlie, if he doesn’t comply with her commands to decode the Bible’s illuminations. We quickly learn that the codes lead to fortune, and a secret society called the Orphans have been seeking it for centuries. Meanwhile, August’s ex-wife, April, is pursued by more villains—of the Order of the Dragon—as she traverses a brilliant maze of secret passageways in the Library of Congress in an attempt to get to the library’s copy of the Gutenberg before the Draconists do. The battle ensues between those dedicated to preserving the Bibles, and two ancient societies racing—and killing—to steal the Bibles and the treasure they lead to.

For a book created for book lovers, though, the writing ability lacks. Simple inconsistencies, such as evaluating August’s performance in decoding the illuminations every hour to determine if his son will live another day, distract from the story. The text is full of trite, overused phrases—“shrieked like a girl,” “It wouldn’t be a secret if I told you”—and stilted dialogue for the sake of the reader—“You’re right-handed.” The best character-development points include April’s danger threshold of reading a book without her glasses and Charlie’s pride in his ability to spell lyceum.

Bronleewe’s true talent lies in music making, and readers can download a free soundtrack to the book on his site, Perhaps readers looking for an adventure should turn on the music, close their eyes, and imagine their own mystery thrillers about the Gutenberg Bible.

Review by Ali McCart, Indigo Editing, LLC

ISBN: 978-1-59554-249-6
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pub. Date: August 2007
Hardcover, $22.99

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