Book Review: Cyndere’s Midnight
May 17, 2010
I just finished Cyndere’s Midnight, the second “strand” in Jeffrey Overstreets’ Auralia’s Colors series. I loved it. I have to confess that I started it awhile back and had a hard time getting into it, the details of the first book feeling vague and fuzzy in my mind. But when I picked it up this time and made my way into the story, I was astonished by the great storytelling and the “mythic” moments that gave my heart that familiar tug, and lastly by the imagination displayed in the story. How do people come up with these things? Amazing.
I was thinking today that I only blog about books when I like them. I thought of Anton Ego, from Ratatoullie, when he says if he doesn’t like food, he doesn’t swallow. I think I am like that with books. If I don’t like them, I either don’t finish them, or if I do, I’m done with them; no more thoughts or reflections necessary.
I don’t really want to try to summarize the book, just to comment on the amazing feat that I think Overstreet accomplishes: he creates a brilliant “God-figure,” called the Keeper. In the guide to the characters at the back of the book, the Keeper is described like this: A massive, mysterious beast who appears in the dreams of all children, and some say the adults as well. It is perceived by children as a benevolent guardian, but most determine that it is only a fancy, probably imagined out of a need for comfort. Some believe it appears in dreams because it is real and moving about in the wild with vast powers of perception and influence.
The Keeper is a thing to be both feared and trusted. Those who trust and love the Keeper have comfort and protection from ultimate harm. The herione of the previous book, Auralia, offers a prayer that is recounted at the beginning of this book, and I’ve flipped back to the page several times, because, somehow, for me, that prayer captures some insight into the deeper, more real world:
Guard me from danger, guard me from lies, guard me from claws and from hearts that despise. Guard me from nightmares, threats to my health. Keeper, come rescue me, yes, from myself.
Auralia is an artist, who uses color and beauty to enliven the grey world around her. She claims she was sent by the Keeper for just that purpose. That is the main story in the first book, but her colors and artistry awaken a beastman (a tribe under a curse of being like powerful, evil beasts). Cyndere’s Midnight tells the continuing story of this beastmans’ transformation and his gradual rejection of the cursed life he was born into. That theme of continual renunciation and rebirth (that so many good fairy tales employ) is another way that this book captured my attention.
I loved how Auralia was used by the Keeper to awaken people, engage their senses, and cause them to wonder about and pursue the Keeper. And how was she used? By her gift of art. Of color. I don’t tend to mark up books a lot when I’m reading, but I actually had to underline this sentence about Auralia (in a green pen, no less. It was the only one I had with me). “Beauty had made the people stand still – the poor and the powerful, the dreamers and the dangerous.” The idea of beauty arresting our senses, of awakening in us a longing and greater understanding of who we are. This is a worthy goal to pursue. And I’m sure God wants us to stand still and catch a glimpse of His eternal glory and reality when we see beautiful things in this world, and beautiful things his creatures have made.
Yikes, I’ve blabbered on about all this and never mentioned the main heroine in this story: Cyndere. She’s really cool, too. Read the book if you want to learn more!