June 10, 2014 Rissi JC 10 Comments

‘OUT OF THE RUINS,’ BY KAREN BARNETT. Review of the 2014 historical fiction novel. All review text © Rissi JC

Historical novels are hit or miss with me. Since discovering which eras is the “better fit,” I have been able to find a rhythm that seems to work. Having only recently read and reviewed Karen’s debut novel (Mistaken), it was an exciting day to open the email with a chance to review the first novel in her new series. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity. This has a completely different story to tell and it doesn’t settle on just one subject.

STORY: Abby Fischer has always been the odd one out. She isn’t a delicate lady or a society girl who knows the art of flirting. Instead she’s a farm girl who’s happy climbing trees rather than perfecting the art of flirting. Only now her family is about to leave behind all they know in order to get her sister the medical treatment she needs. Cousin Gerald, and his young protégé (or friend), Robert King, bring the family the hope of an experimental new treatment, and Abby determines to find her beloved sister healing. No matter what.  

Out of the Ruins, by Karen Barnett | Book Review

There are a lot of interesting pieces of and aspects to this story. It’s not a typical historical with a boy-meets-girl concept. How Karen writes it too is interesting. She divides the story up into a part one and two format with its first part being primary about Cecelia’s health and the doctor’s attempts to uncover a scientific cure. Then comes part two which highlights (mainly) one dramatic day, and the aftereffects in the hours afterwards, specifically in the life of Abby and her family. This chronicles perspectives not just of MC’s, but also the people they meet (not in a first person or point-of-view sense, rather in how the tragedy affects them) and the impact they have on both Abby and Robert. Despite one instance of confusing prose, what’s nice about this is this arc has a purpose. One that affects its heroine in personal ways.


Perhaps the most poignant thing about this story is the importance God plays in… everything. I respect and appreciate how Karen weaves Him in every part of her story – not just in how she represents His presence, also in the fact that even with struggling feelings about these characters respective faith, the bigger pieces of Christianity don’t seem pushy or overwhelming. To this reader, it means a lot when the faith doesn’t overwhelm yet still pulls out all of the stops; when a story is unafraid to be whatever it needs to be to mold around a beautiful message, that’s kind of faith is what shines. In Out of the Ruins, this is exactly what this novel is.

The characters are also wonderful to get to know. It’s interesting to meet a heroine who hides underneath a shy exterior and who only feels herself when she meets a man making medical breakthroughs. He’s handsome, well-educated and exactly the kind of man Abby’s sister would flirt with.  

Not only does this begin the start of a lovely new series, I just have to say that the meet-cute between this couple, well, it’s darling! The reason being it reminds me of a certain re-telling of Cinderella, and whether or not Abby realizes it, she’s got more spunk than she gives herself credit for. Her strength proves this. If you’re a historical aficionado, you won’t want to miss this one! It’s sweet, with interesting moments in history, and takes its title to beautiful places.    

About the Book:

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

Author: Karen Barnett
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Source: Litfuse Publicity
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere: Amazon | Goodreads | Novel Crossing
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Series: The Golden Gate Chronicles, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Inspirational
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sincere thanks to Litfuse for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Karen Barnett June 10, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Thanks for taking the time to review Out of the Ruins! It's quite a different story from Mistaken, isn't it? :)

    • Rissi June 11, 2014 at 2:52 AM

      It was my pleasure, Karen! And, yes, this is different than Mistaken but I enjoyed both very much, and am already eager to learn what you have planned for book 2! :)

  • Heidi Robbins June 10, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    I recently read this and wow, was it intense! I enjoyed your review- you made a lot of great points!

    • Rissi June 11, 2014 at 2:54 AM

      Guess I didn't really think of it as intense while reading it, but now you mention it, Heidi, it was full of "intense" emotional moments – which I'm sure can be attributed to the two part style of the book. It opens doors early on to moving fast than spending the better part of part two with Abby trying to find her way home.

      Thanks for reading! :)

  • Bekah M. June 13, 2014 at 5:04 AM

    I am reading this book right now and really enjoying it so far. :)

    • Rissi June 13, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      Yay! Will now be on the lookout for your review, Bekah. :)

  • KayM April 9, 2016 at 12:48 AM

    I read the first two books in this series recently and really enjoyed them.

    • Rissi April 12, 2016 at 4:29 PM

      They are good, aren't they, Kay? I think this might be the only one I've read by Karen, but I'd like to read the rest in the series as well as her stand-alone debut novel. Glad you discovered them and more importantly, you enjoyed. :)



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