Excellent, inspiring, God-focused book, best for older readers.
Note: This book is published by Lamplighter, but this review is not of the Lamplighter edition.
Charlotte Maria Tucker wrote under the pen name A.L.O.E.
When proud young Horace coaxes his mother to a trip in Calabria, Italy, he is looking for adventure while she fears danger. After ignoring a warning from the suspicious-looking Raphael, the youth and his mother are captured by the band of the infamous Matteo. She is given seven days to free her son, and he is thrust into the robbers' cave. Though taunted and tormented in the den of evil, Horace finds light in an unexpected place.
The banditti do many wicked things, but these are shown as such. Horace is self-focused, proud, uncaring, and selfish, but he learns to be a servant warrior for God. Complete self-sacrifice and utter love is shown.
Excellent. Raphael is a strong Christian and he teaches Horace what it means to live for Christ and in Christ. Many Bible verses are read and quoted. There are many conversations about God, and His Word is greatly treasured. Jesus is barely mentioned, though.
The banditi are Catholics and pray to the saints, as well as giving to the church. A character thinks he sees a ghost.
Horace is robbed, physically hurt, and verbally abused. He is threatened with a horrible death that is not explained. There are many vague statements about the atrocities of Matteo and his men, murder and worse, though nothing explicit. There are mentions of specific people having been killed or murdered, with suggestion that the latter was brutal. Many bad characters are killed. A main character is shot. Nothing is more explicit than what I've stated here.
Drug and Alcohol Content
The characters drink wine. It is probable that the banditi over-indulge, but nothing is stated about it.
Vague references to the horrors of the banditi's crimes, but nothing brings to mind that kind.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
Horace hears the banditi say coarse and barbaric things that horrify him, but the words are not recorded. Horace calls the Italians derogatory names, such as dogs.
This is a beautiful, spiritually uplifting, inspiring, and convicting story. The characters are real, the action intense, and the culture well portrayed, but the real beauty in this is in the portrayal of a believer's utter dependence on God. While I would not wish anyone to be forced into Horace's position, many in the church could grow by his lesson. Through the character Raphael, Tucker paints a vivid picture of a life completely given to God, to the complete loss of itself, that can be an inspiration to all of us. In Horace, many readers may see themselves, and so learn with him. Some may have minor theological differences with the book (such as its vague soteriology), but the main themes and values are true to God's Word, and so relevant to our lives.
The writing style is fitting to the time in which it was written, so the long paragraphs, extensive description, and high vocabulary may make it difficult for young readers. Lamplighter Theatre's audio dramatization of the book is excellent, though it cuts some of the spiritual reflections for the sake of space and extends the fight scene.