Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review: A Cry From The Dust

When I was younger, I aspired to be an archaeologist. Spurred on by a love of history and adventure, the thought of being the first person to discover an artifact after thousands of years answered the typical childhood question of What do you want to be when you grow up? It wasn't until I was older that I realized 95% of an archaeologist's job is either spent subsisting in dusty, ragged conditions in the middle of nowhere or categorizing and record keeping. So, I opted to not follow that career path, but still maintained a love of all things antique and adventure-related anyway.

Carrie Stuart Park's debut novel, A Cry From the Dust, immediately got my attention. Not only does it have archaeological and adventurous themes, but the author was mentored by well-known author Frank Peretti. (I read and re-read the Cooper Kids series often as a kid.)

In the novel, forensic artist Gwen Marcey is working on a job reconstructing the faces of several recently discovered bodies in Utah. The bodies were part of the real historical event, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which 140 men, women, and children part of a wagon train were murdered in 1857 by Mormon extremists. Gwen's hopes this temporary gig will give her a break from her reality...a spiteful ex-husband, a rebellious teenage daughter, and the stress of having recently completely chemo for breast cancer. But, instead, after stumbling across a body killed in the form of ritualistic sacrifice, she realizes there is a 150 year old cover-up that some people will go to any length--including kidnap and murder--to keep covered up.

A Cry From the Dust is a real page turner. Gwen is a likable, funny, and determined main character. I actually wanted to be Gwen's friend--which is the mark of good character development. The book is written in first person, Gwen's perspective, but occasionally, parts are told in 3rd person from Gwen's daughter's perspective so we have additional information. Towards the end of the book, things get a little less realistic (with Gwen's recent cancer and chemo, she probably would not have had the energy and stamina to make it through some of the extreme physical tasks she had to engage in.) But, for the most part, I couldn't put this book down and hope Carrie Stuart Parks plans to write another Gwen Marcey book soon!

*Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.


  1. Aaaa, thank you so much for that lovely review! The good news is that Gwen is back next summer, this time confronting the Christian Identity movement (think Aryan Nations type folks) a group I dealt with quite a bit as a forensic artist.

    As to the ending? LOL I drew upon my own experience with cancer and chemo. Two weeks after my last chemo, I got it into my head to drive from North Idaho to Sacramento, teach five sessions and have a booth with the ACFW (Association for Christian Schools International) conference, then teach a 40-hour forensic workshop in the Bay area, then do a two day art show, then drive home. What was I THINKING?? I guess I somehow thought, okay, chemo's done, let's move on............

    1. Thanks Carrie! Way to rise above all the stressors and make something positive out of it. I loved "everything happens for a reason". And, I'm so glad Gwen is coming back...I will be first in line to pick that one up!


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