MESSAGES FROM ESTILLYEN:
A Novel of Redemption and Human Worth
by William E. Jefferson
Port Estillyen Productions, 978-0-9856621-6-5, PB, 422 pages
This fantasy-romance novel follows newlyweds Goodwin and Hollie Macbreeze as they search for comfort and peace. On the final leg of their journey, prompted by a sketch Goodwin made as a young boy and the guidance of his grandfather, they are headed for the mysterious Isle of Estillyen—home to the Old Order of Message Makers. They spend a month on the island, exploring the truths of the writings, readings, and lifestyles of the mysterious monks (and nuns). Strange circumstances and unquenchable curiosities thrust the Macbreezes into an encounter with old Oban Ironbout—a man emotionally wounded by his past.
Caught up in the drama of Mr. Ironbout and intrigued by the unusual Estillyen atmosphere, Goodwin and Hollie find more than just themselves on this trip.
Messages from Estillyen would be suited best for adults in their mid-twenties and older. Although this is a work of fiction, Jefferson presents ideas and truths that, while applicable to most ages, are projected for a more mature audience. Some of the conflicts and struggles of the characters are more relatable to readers in similar stages of life.
The Message Makers of Estillyen are men who spend their entire lives studying secular writing and the Scriptures; they enjoy the simple things of life and love to discuss deep topics with visitors to the isle.
Through the messages, called “readings” in the novel, Jefferson presents biblical truths in a format that is relatable and intriguing. He incorporates the messages of truth by having Hollie and Goodwin following a series of these messages as they explore Estillyen. These readings examine the importance of Scripture’s messages and the media by which they travel—Christ is the message and the medium combined. Jefferson also includes the viewpoint of Lucifer in these writings: similar to Randy Alcorn’s The Ishbane Conspiracy. William E. Jefferson challenges the reader to think about the influence words and Truth have on the world and how we as image-bearers are called to present them through our callings.
Whereas this book was intriguing, I found the reading a bit slow at times. Jefferson is incredibly descriptive; however, he tends to be overly descriptive to the point of redundancy, and he describes unnecessary things at strange places in the book. I appreciated his ability to describe things in detail, but it often detracted from the story. In addition, Hollie and Goodwin lacked a depth that most “Christian” characters would be expected to have; Jefferson never really had the Macbreezes discuss the topics shared through the messages. The dialogue also seemed quite abrupt and moved at a quick pace, whereas the story moved at a slower speed.
Brecken Mumford of Novi, Michigan, is a professional writing major at Taylor University and a book reviewer for Church Libraries.
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