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There are countless books out there by fellow believers that deserve to be read, whether they’ve published with us or not! While our book reviews will not be as frequent as our other articles, the goal is to get these books in front of more readers to enjoy, which in turn helps support more authors.
We hope you enjoy our first book review!
Between Two Worlds is what I call a “binge-worthy” book.
Admittedly, I don’t dive into historical fiction much as I prefer fantasy. I made an exception with this because I knew Cheyenne through Wattpad and her stories there, and seeing the quality of her writing, I wanted to support her. Plus, her book takes place in ancient Rome, and as someone who loves ancient history, I couldn’t pass that up.
The story follows Enid, a Celtic girl who is taken as a slave by the “Redcrests” (i.e., Romans) and sold into slavery. She holds to her heritage through the years and finds something very unexpected.
Deep Dive | Spoilers Ahead
“It began with a whisper.”
This is the opening line of Between Two Worlds and I am here for it. It does what I believe all hooks should do, which is to make the reader ask a question. If you can do that, you have successfully hooked a reader because they will want to find out more.
The prologue does an excellent job of setting the tone for the main portion of the book without info-dumping or feeling like it’s filled with useless information that never ends up applying to the story overall. It’s also set in 3rd person, while Enid’s POV is in 1st person past tense. It really helps create a distinction between the characters, but doesn’t create any confusion.
Chapter One starts off with a letter or journal entry from Enid years after the events have taken place, which then moves into the “present time” within the story. It’s still written as a recounting of things, but it’s done well and I had no problem following along with it, as that is the general feel of 1st person past tense anyway.
Right off the bat, I loved Enid’s character. She’s sassy, slightly overconfident, and strong willed without being obnoxious. We see the joy of her relationships and frustrations right off the bat, and the budding of love. That doesn’t last long, however, as she is quickly captured by Roman soldiers and taken away from everything and everyone she’s ever known.
While she’s on the ship, I lost track of time a bit and was a little confused. The trip from England to Rome felt like it went by too quickly, and since I’m a stickler for things like travel times, it threw me off. It didn’t ruin the story by any means.
The bulk of the story takes place in Rome and follows Enid through the years of slavery. The family she is bought for is not unkind, but the difference between them is worlds apart. We see her wrestling with her deep-seated hatred for them and refusing to let them pass her walls despite their attempts. You can feel the tension throughout the entire story because you’re rooting for her and empathizing with her but also going “JUST LET THEM LOVE YOU!!!!”
I won’t spoil the rest for you, so please read it. You can find a link at the bottom if you want to check it out.
The writing was sophisticated but not overdone. Elegant, yet not gaudy. The classical feel of the language used (thee, thou, thy, etc.) flowed much better than I expected it to. It never dragged down the conversations, and I never felt confused by what anyone was talking about. For reference, it only comes up in dialogue.
Cheyenne mentions that Rosemary Sutcliff was a big influence in her writing. I recently read The Shining Company, by Rosemary Sutcliff and could immediately see where Cheyenne's writing voice came from. For me, Cheyenne's writing was on par with Sutcliff's, and it was a wonderful ode to the more classical style while blending it beautifully with modern language for people now to enjoy.
I dove into it and read 114 pages on the first day. I couldn’t stop myself and was loath to pause even for a moment because it wrapped me up in the story. Few books do this for me nowadays.
I completed the entire book in less than twenty-four hours because I couldn’t stop reading. Her pacing was beautifully done, and it pulled me from chapter to chapter. The flow was good, the characters were interesting, and even the scene breaks didn’t bother me (a pet peeve of mine in books)!
The things I felt were lacking were only because I loved the story and wanted more of it! The daily interactions with the slaves, Honoria, and others I missed because I know there is so much more there. This is due to Cheyenne doing her homework on Roman culture and building it in such a way as to make it feel as if you’re really there. For me, when an author can do that, I want more of it. I realize it wouldn’t have added to the story and would be solely to satisfy my curiosity, but I would love to see some one-shots. I’m a fan.
Between Two Worlds reminds me of Stephen R. Lawhead’s books such as The Song of Albion Trilogy, or Linda Wichman’s Legend of the Emerald Rose. I continually return to them every few years, and Between Two Worlds is a book I will reread again and again for years to come, without a doubt. I highly recommend it—if you love Ancient Rome or Celtic history and you’re a fan of historical fiction, this should be your next read.
About the Author
Cheyenne van Langevelde is a young author and musician whose greatest passion is weaving tales through story and song. When not struggling to attempt the most metaphorical prose, she enjoys composing and recording soundtrack pieces for books, practicing calligraphy and Irish dance, and studying the Welsh language. She occasionally emerges into the real world to restock her chocolate supply, of which she hoards like a dragon would his gold. Between Two Worlds is her debut novel.
Enid hates the Romans who enslaved her. Broken-hearted over the life she lost in Britain, she vows to bury her name and her past where the Redcrests can never reach it. As years of servitude pass, bitter resignation replaces her longing to return home.
Then an unlikely friendship with a fellow outcast raises Enid out of her isolation, bringing both hope for the future and questions about the confusing God of the Christiani. Yet memories of her childhood haunt her, urging her to cling to her old identity, while the barriers of Roman society remain in the way of her deepest dreams. The peace she thought she made with the past is crumbling.
But time is running out for Enid and those she loves. Danger threatens the household she serves as persecution stalks her few friends. She must decide if risking it all for the one she loves is worth giving up the world she knows.
Even if it is a choice between life and death.