"Children of Sinai" A Thrilling Debut Novel by Shelley Clarke

§ I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel. § 

John Milburn leads a simple life: he is a computer scientist, happily married with twins, and has a lovely house in Suffolk, England. All of this changes when his dreams start: every single night he dreams of climbing a mountain, it scares and exhausts him. Things become even more complicated when it becomes apparent that his twin daughters dream of the same, and they share the dream - even manage to communicate through it. So John starts to investigate what all of this could mean ... and if anyone is in danger ...

Children of Sinai by Shelley Clarke
"Children of Sinai" is a mystery thriller in which Clarke added a religious element. However, you do not need to know the ins and outs of any religion since everything is explained as we get further into the story. Religion and celestial beings just offer inspiration for the riddle that needs to be solved.

While I can see that this might cause someone to be wary of the book, Clarke treats any religious belief with respect and it is not used as an excuse for any negative motivations or events. Instead, she expands on an idea born in biblical texts while acknowledging that religion is there as well without judging it.

Despite containing a fair amount of biblical information, the plot is never pushed into the background. You are briefly introduced to who is who and everything else you need to know is given to you alongside John. Since John is as clueless as you, this has the positive side-effect, that you are never info-dumped and information is given to you in understandable junks during the right time.

At the beginning, it takes a little until you realise what the mystery is going to contain and you don't stab in the dark anymore. Afterwards, the pace quickly picks up and the more pieces fall together the tenser the atmosphere gets. This was heaviest briefly after the halfway point and it was going strong for several pages where you just wanted to swipe to the next and the next to know what was going to happen.

After this climax, Clarke lures you into a false sense of security. Everything should be fine and okay ... but there are still pages to go ... What is wrong? However, Clarke does not try to "out-drama" the first climax with one that is even more action packed and only there to shock you. Instead, it is built totally different and, in a sense, even heartbreaking. It has to happen. The tone is different from the first parts, but the transition between these parts is smooth and feel natural.

A rather brave step had been to include flashbacks into the past. While this can cause to unravel the mystery sooner than intended, it works towards its favour. The first flashback is to John's parents, and when it ends, you just want to know more. It wets your appetite, and you get the answer alongside John. There are two flashbacks, and despite being well done, I wonder if the story couldn't have done without either of them.

"Children of Sinai" gets two brownie points: sometimes when you get review copies you get a stripped version of a novel - meaning no cover. I am so glad that this one had the cover included because it is gorgeous! I love everything about it, the minimalism, that it works in black and white as well. I think it's beautiful:

Children of Sinai by Shelley Clarke
The second brownie point goes for any novel that includes celestial beings that don't fall into the gender binary. This is party to do with gender roles, and also that it is - biblical speaking - correct. They do not have a gender, or have a mixture of. The latter is the case in "Children of Sinai."

Overall, "Children of Sinai" is a thrilling read with a mystery that has a different set-up than most novels of this genre. It reveals just enough to keep you going without confusing you. The writing is easy to read and keeps you hooked!

Children Of Sinai by Shelley Clarke
Published2019- self-published
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About Shelley Clarke

Shelley Clarke was born into a naval family in Kent in 1958, and consequently moved house a lot as a child. She had ambitions to follow in her father's footsteps and join the Royal Navy, and to become a carpenter, but these were not female occupations at that time. So she learned to type... which has come in jolly handy for putting her stories first onto paper, and now onto screen.

Shelley is a keen painter, poet, and karaoke enthusiast; she loves mad family get-togethers, hates olives, ironing and gardening, and currently lives in Devon with her husband Kev, and their two Tibetan Terriers Nena and Pepi, who make them smile every day.

Shelley often forgets she is a grown-up.

Children of Sinai is Shelley's debut novel. The story had been bouncing around her head for many years, and putting it down on paper has been the hardest thing she's ever had to do. She certainly could not have got through this experience without a lot of cursing and chocolate!

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  1. This sounds like an intriguing book - I wonder if it reads similar to a Dean Koontz novel as it seems to have some of the same metaphysical world ideals?

    1. I haven't read any Koonth novels before ... so I guess you have to read this one to get the answer ;)

  2. I am not good with thrillers in any sense but it does sound interesting. I have never heard of it before. You have written a great review with great detail! Thank you for sharing
    Lauren | www.bournemouthgirl.com


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