Joanna Penn has done it again, and then some, with PROPHECY. Her character Morgan Sierra is back in page-turning (or on an e-reader, perhaps it's called button-clicking) read. If you have not yet read Joanna Penn's first book, Pentecost. An ARKANE Thriller., then buy that now and read it first. While you could read PROPHECY without having read Pentacost and still enjoy it, reading Pentacost first will enhance your enjoyment of Prophecy.
Morgan Sierra is still kicking butt and taking names as she and her partner Jake travel the world and unravel mysteries in order to stop a super-hot megalomaniac from starting Armageddon. If you're a fan of Dan Brown, then Joanna Penn is the author for you. Like Brown, Penn weaves information about religious art, icons and history with modern-day fears. The result is a face paced read, one that kept me up past my bedtime because I wanted to know what happens next.
Here are three things I really love about this book:
1. RECITATION OF FACTS TO A MINIMUM. Books like this one, where there is a significant amount of relevant facts for the reader to know, can so easily become a non-fiction textbook rather than a fiction story. As a reader, I don't want to become aware of the author and feel like in the middle of a story, the author has butted his/her head in and is giving me a recitation of facts (one of the reasons I don't read much historical fiction). In Penn's first book, while I enjoyed it quite a bit (I gave it 4 stars), there were times that the author spent a few too many paragraphs (in my opinion) reciting the wonderful facts she had learned from her research.
In PROPHECY, this doesn't happen. The reading is smooth, recitation kept to a minimum. There are plenty of wonderful facts thrown in but it is handled deftly. AND I LOVE learning about the various places this book takes me. I enjoy whizzing around the world with Morgan Sierra and learning about religious artifacts and iconography and the meanings behind them. Joanna Penn knows her stuff and in PROPHECY, author Penn allows her character to do the talking.
2. KICK-BUTT FEMALE PROTAGONIST. I don't think I'm alone when I say that I could go the rest of my life without reading another book with a wimpy female main character who is like the proverbial princess locked in the tower waiting to be rescued. Joanna Penn has created a wonderful character in Morgan Sierra, a character that can easily maintain a whole series of books. I really enjoyed learning more about Morgan in this second book of the Arkane series and I love that the author didn't tell us everything about her in Book 1. She's doling the information out book by book. And Ms. Penn created a character with plausible explanation for why she can go head to head with thugs and bad guys (where if I were to try to land a flat palmed thrust to a bad guy's face I'd end up with a broken wrist). Morgan Sierra's history continues to unfold for the reader and her background makes her abilities and actions believable. Morgan is sexy, smart and kicks butt. It's fun going for the ride with her.
3. COMMERCIAL FICTION THAT CAN ALSO PROVOKE THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION. I enjoy a book that's just a fun ride as much as the next person. But I also like a book that may inspire me to use my noodle, think about an issue, perhaps even enter into a lively debate with others based on the issues raised. Joanna Penn tackles the issue of religious extremism in this book and she does it very well. Why does someone strap a bomb to themselves and blow themselves and many others up in the name of God? The author is never preachy and again, the tendency of some authors is to start to lecture the reader when they address these kind of themes. Author Penn avoided this tendency and allowed the themes to unfold naturally and without instilling herself into the story as a lecturer. I enjoyed very much Penn's treatment of this complex and troubling topic -one so completely relevant to our current world situation.
Kudos to Joanna Penn. Looking forward to the next installment.
5 Hawks to PROPHECY by Joanna Penn!
I use the Hawk as a symbol because I like hawks and because there is a hawk named Boadicea in my novel Emily's House.