I bought two books by JoAnn Arnold at the American Night Writer's Conference in March. This is the first one I read. I generally like fairytales or books with lots of joy--or kissing (oops! did I confess that online???)--and always, always happy endings. This book, Journey of the Promise has a satisfying end, and although it didn't meet the other criteria, it was still well worth the read, and I recommend it.
Reading Journey of the Promise by JoAnn Arnold is a life-changing experience, and I almost don’t know how to write about it. It’s an LDS thriller with a positive message. If only all of the thousands of women married to abusive and controlling spouses could read this book and realize that they have a choice. Of course 99.9% of the women out there being abused don’t have the exceptional resources and life supports that Callie McAllister had, however, we all have our own journey, and this novel supports the idea that if you don’t like your circumstances, there is a way out.
Callie McAllister finds she is married to Anthony Bellani—a man with a family history of mental illness. Arnold portrays Anthony and his psychotic behavior with chilling accuracy as he methodically isolates Callie from all of her friends and most of her family before she even realizes there’s something wrong with her fairytale marriage.
If you have a queasy stomach toward physical violence, don’t worry, this isn't that type of book. The main theme of this novel is of Callie’s journey to fulfill a promise made to hundreds of friends in the pre-existence. As she prepares herself toward the day when she will leave her husband, never quite knowing what the plan is, but trusting in the Lord to provide a way—she also finds herself making new friends and uncovering the names of hundreds of slaves who are beyond the veil and wanting their work done for them. It’s amazing how the author intertwines Callie’s two journeys into one, giving little snippets of thought from the other characters along the way to enlighten us and add a little spice to the story.
There are plenty of tense moments with attempted kidnappings, Anthony’s high-tech manhunt for his wife, Callie—her escape into a slavery cave long forgotten by the Bellani family, and the desire for Callie to discover the identity of a little boy whose dried blood is on a pillow in a secret room, and whose bones lay hidden deep within the cave. However, the story has a happy ending for everyone except, of course, Anthony, and his poor parents, who, despite the blinders they wear in regards to their son’s behavior, are truly good people.