Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book Review: The Treasure of Israel

Copyright © 2011, Steven E. Houchin. All rights reserved.

Where do I begin with S. J. Munson's novel, The Treasure of Israel? From the first pages, the words sloppy, amateurish came to mind. The formatting is jarring, almost as if the author's rough manuscript was dumped into a book-espresso machine and vomited out as-is. Blank lines separate paragraphs. Scene breaks are marked (or is it marred?) by multiple blank lines and gaggles of asterisks.  The use of dashes is seriously inconsistent (some long, some short). Was no editing done by the publisher, Revival Nation Publishing of Ontario? Well, considering their web site is defunct, it's hard to tell the quality of their products. One profile of them indicates they dedicate profits to Christian ministry work -- a laudable goal, but no excuse for a sloppy end product. Maybe it is strictly vanity publishing.

To say the novel's characters are thin is an insult to all thin characters ever created. To quote Admiral Nimitz (Henry Fonda) from the movie Midway when discussing Objective A-F: "Thin? Damn near invisible!"  The main character is Michael Grammaticus, not to be confused with his father from the opening chapter, Michael Grammaticus. The storyline has a poor man's Da Vinci Code feel to it, where a secret left behind by the deceased Michael Sr. propels Michael Jr. into danger and intrigue following clues among Rome's ancient churches. And we have, of course, the obligatory accidental female sidekick babe who latches on for the ride. The dialog among the characters usually consists of pointless arguments and dribbling banter that pretends to be clever but fails miserably.

The only interesting part for me were the flashbacks that detailed the history behind the treasures of the ancient temple of Israel. If those portions are true, then it represents a significant body of research.  But, who knows how much is just made up?

Dive into a good Clive Cussler novel instead.  The Treasure of Israel is definitly a book to skip.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Steven,
Your review of my book made me both chuckle and cringe. You are absolutely right when you say, "almost as if the author's rough manuscript was dumped into a book-espresso machine and vomited out as-is." For that is what happened, and it expresses only a little of the horror I felt when my early draft came back to me from the publisher in proof form, without so much as a warning! Can you imagine how angry and heartbroken I felt? As a new and naive author I was expecting editing, major revisions; what I received was little better than a spell check. I had few choices at that point, so I desperately began making minor changes to the proofs until it was too late. It was my first experience with a small Canadian publisher, (they are now out of business, for which you are no doubt thankful), and it was an eye-opener. I would have done better to enlist my own editor and publish myself. Despite all this, I feel the book has some redeeming qualities and deserves another chance at life, so I am looking into that. But to answer your question, yes, the historical flashbacks (fictionalized of course) are all the result of lengthy and meticulous research based on the best ancient sources. I won't bore you by asking for advice, but if you have any further pointers, feel free to send them my way (Email: I appreciate your taking the time to review it. Best wishes.