Sunday, January 21, 2024

Today's read... StarPassage: The Relic by Clark Rich Burbidge

Today's read should be an interesting one with unique twists and turns. I have read works from this author before and enjoyed his tales. This one heads in a science fiction direction and sends the main characters onto a trip through time. It involves a Christmas ornament (which kind of made me blink the first time I read the blurb after seeing the cover), but then, I don't have the impression that it's really a Christmas story. It does involve themes surround PTSD, which with my own son in the army isn't an unknown topic, and I know several families who deal with this. So, that aspect caught my attention. I'm not sure how all of this will mold together, but I'm excited to find out.

StarPassage, Book One 
by Clark Rich Burbidge
Middle Grade Science Fiction / Religious / Time Travel
290 pages
ages 9 to 16

Teenagers Tim and Martie are desperate to end their parents’ downward spiral. Between their father’s PTSD and their mother’s depression, their family has reached a breaking point. Then an ancient Christmas ornament reveals its secrets, sending the siblings across the centuries on a search for hope. But Tim and Martie aren’t the only ones hunting through time. They’re being watched by dark figures—Trackers doomed to haunt history. These Trackers believe the teens’ ornament is their key to freedom, and they will do whatever it takes to steal it. What begins as an exciting adventure becomes a deadly race. Can Tim and Martie find the answers they seek before their enemy finds them? 



Action, time travel, history, family love, and rediscovering the hope only God can offer mix into an unique tale with unexpected twists and turns from beginning to end.

It's Christmas, but Tim and Martie can't feel anything surrounding the season's spirit. Family life is more than difficult with their father's PTSD, due to his military experiences, and their mother's depression. While wishing there was a way to get things back toward a normality, they discover a message etched into the back of the star on their tree. Before the know it, they're pulled through time. The Star makes it clear that it is leading them on a helpful path, which involves meeting historic figures and experiencing certain events. While this might offer the family a chance to heal, it's not exactly a safe undertaking. Not only can everything they do alter time in unknown ways, but the situations themselves become more dangerous with each visit, especially with the evil Trackers are on their tails. These shadow creatures live in the darkness of time and will do anything to get their hands on the Star.

The first pages hit a couple grabbing scenes. This (I'm going to call it) prologue sets the atmosphere and adds a bit of background but was also a little confusing since the real story starts when the characters appear. When Tim and Martie come in, the atmosphere shifts and soon gains sympathy and pulls at the heart strings. From there, the time travel starts but with clear purpose thanks to the messages, which appear on the Star. With each trip, the tension builds, allowing the reader to sink into both the characters and the story. While one aspect of the plot seems to be improving and finding a solution, another one digs in deeper and deeper. It makes it hard to put this read down and exciting to see what will happen next. 

There's an interesting weave of aspects, which despite their extreme differences, somehow come together well. While the Christmas season launches and ends everything, the plot centers around the year in between. So, it's not really a Holiday read. Instead, the main theme in this first read centers around the father's struggles with PTSD and the mother's depression. These are realistically and well-done...and themes which will hit home for certain readers. The religious aspect grounds and flows smoothly into the plot,  offering hope and encouragement with a wholesome dusting. Then, there's the scifi/time travel end, which adds an entirely different direction. Not only does this weave in lesser known moments of history, but then, even takes an exciting, fantastical twists with the evil Trackers. These shadows add constantly building tension and danger, putting more than the lives of Time and Martie on the line. 

This is sold as a read for 9 to 16 year-olds, but I'd put it into the solid, middle grade category. Tim and Martie (especially Martie) come across younger than teens. I was surprised when I revisited the blurb after reading this and discovered that Martie was even a teen. The subject material starts softer but does get more aggressive as the story goes on. Still, even this isn't beyond the middle grade range and will keep readers in the pages. This promises to be an exciting series with much more to come.

And here he is...

Contributor Bios Clark Burbidge was born and raised in the mountain valleys of the Rockies. He earned an MBA from the University of Southern California and a BS from the University of Utah. Clark and his wife, Leah, live near Salt Lake City, Utah, where they enjoy their blended family of ten children and five grandchildren. StarPassage is Clark’s seventh book. His award-winning works include the Giants in the Land trilogy and A Piece of A Story of Christ.

1 comment:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I like stories that involve time travel. And it's interesting that this one involves the Christmas season but doesn't end there. Glad you enjoyed it so much.