Out of the Ruins by Karen Barnett

Monday, June 9, 2014

About the Book:
Author: Karen Barnett
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Source: Litfuse Publicity
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
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Series: The Golden Gate Chronicles, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Inspirational
Rating: 4 out of 5

Historical novels are hit or miss with me. Since discovering which eras is the “better fit,” I have been able to find a rhythm that seems to work for this girl’s bookshelves. Having only recently read and reviewed Karen’s debut novel (Mistaken), it was an exciting day to open the email with a chance to review the first novel in her new series. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity. This has a completely different story to tell and it doesn't settle on just one subject. Abby Fischer has always been the odd one out. She isn’t a delicate lady or a society girl who knows the art of flirting. Instead she’s a farm girl who’s happier climbing trees and muddling through new meetings than she perfecting the art of snagging a beau. Only now her family is about to leave behind all they know in order to get her sister the medical treatment she needs – their family doctor’s treatment for her cancer is making no difference so when Cousin Gerald, and his young protégé (or friend), Robert King bring the family the hope of an experimental new treatment, Abby is determined to see her beloved sister healed. No matter what.  

There are a lot of interesting pieces of and aspects to this story. It’s not a typical historical with a boy-meets-girl concept, this one goes further and deeper with its emotional impact and in the details. How Karen wrote it was interesting. She divides the story up into a part one and two format with its first part being primary about Cecelia’s health and the doctor’s attempts at uncovering the right kind of scientific cure that will heal her already weakened body. Then comes part two which highlights (mainly) one dramatic day, and the aftereffects in the hours afterwards in the life of Abby and her family – it chronicles perspectives not just from its two MC’s, but also the people they meet (not in a first person or point-of-view sense, rather in how they are affected by a tragedy as seen through Abby and Robert's thoughts) and the impact they have on both Abby and Robert. There was one section that left me confused not because of its prose, only because of the flurry of new (albeit temporary) characters that crop up on the page. What’s nice about this is that despite any minor confusion, this arc has a purpose – one that affects its heroine in personal ways.

Perhaps the most poignant thing about this story is the importance God plays in… everything. I respect and appreciate how Karen weaves Him in every part of her story – not just in how she represents His presence, also in the fact that even with struggling feelings about these characters respective faith, the bigger pieces of Christianity don’t seem pushy or overwhelming. To this reader, it means a lot when the faith doesn’t overwhelm yet still pulls out all of the stops; when a story is unafraid to be whatever it needs to be to mold around a beautiful message, that’s kind of faith is what shines. In Out of the Ruins, that is exactly what this novel is. The characters are also wonderful people to know. It was interesting to meet a heroine who hid underneath a shy exterior and who only felt herself with her sister put her up against a man who was making impossible breakthroughs in the 1906 American medical field. He was handsome, well-educated and exactly the kind of man Abby’s sister would have flirted with – he’s the kind of man who’d have given Cecelia a second glance, not plain Abby.  Not only does this begin the start of a lovely new series, I just have to say that the meet-cute between this couple… it’s darling! The reason being it reminded me of a certain re-telling of Cinderella, and whether or not Abby realizes it, she’s got more spunk than she gives herself credit for. Her strength of character proves that.

If you’re a historical aficionado, you won’t want to miss this one! It’s sweet, full of moments in history that are interesting to revisit and takes it title to places that are beautiful.  
Read what other's are saying about Out of the Ruins!

Synopsis: While her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn’t expect, however, is for God’s answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best.

As they work together toward a cure, Abby’s feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now? Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?
- Goodreads

Sincere thanks to Litfuse for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to review Out of the Ruins! It's quite a different story from Mistaken, isn't it? :)

    1. It was my pleasure, Karen! And, yes, this is different than Mistaken but I enjoyed both very much, and am already eager to learn what you have planned for book 2! :)

  2. I recently read this and wow, was it intense! I enjoyed your review- you made a lot of great points!

    1. Guess I didn't really think of it as intense while reading it, but now you mention it, Heidi, it was full of "intense" emotional moments - which I'm sure can be attributed to the two part style of the book. It opens doors early on to moving fast than spending the better part of part two with Abby trying to find her way home.

      Thanks for reading! :)

  3. I am reading this book right now and really enjoying it so far. :)

    1. Yay! Will now be on the lookout for your review, Bekah. :)

  4. I read the first two books in this series recently and really enjoyed them.

    1. They are good, aren't they, Kay? I think this might be the only one I've read by Karen, but I'd like to read the rest in the series as well as her stand-alone debut novel. Glad you discovered them and more importantly, you enjoyed. :)


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