Review: To the Uttermost by Kristina Hall
Whoo, boy, lemme tell y’all, we could be here all day if I tried to recount every aspect of this book and everything I felt while reading it...and I reckon y’all ain’t got all day, now do ya? So I’ll just direct y’all to my review of the previous novel, Strangers and Pilgrims, here, which gives you the lowdown on Kristina Hall’s writing style and an overview of how she writes her novels.
Because, as a continuation of SAP, To the Uttermost is really quite similar in everything but the actual story—we even have the honor of hangin’ with the one and only Sally Reiner again!
To be truthful, Sally made this book. Without her, there’d’ve been no laughter, no raising of the eyebrows, no snortin’, no knee-slapping or hat-smacking, no eye rolls. Just plain ol’ readin’. Y’all, Sally is something else, lemme tell ya! She is so bright and snarky and absolutely high-lair-ee-us! Unlike any heroine I’ve ever read, she still had that naive essence of a little girl with the intelligence and maturity of a grown woman—and a fine sense of humor, to boot! You didn’t have to worry about Sally trying to be something she wasn’t—like one of them feminist heroines—as she was completely genuine and authentic, a strong woman in the truest sense, and I love that about her.
Plus her dialogue is priceless. Absolutely priceless, you guys.
Speaking of, I am amazed at how well Hall is able to make everything seem so realistic. Is it the simplicity of everything? The vibrancy of the characters? The authenticity of the dialogue? I dunno. All I know is that everything—from the dialogue to, most of all, the struggles the characters endure—is so real.
Especially the message and the beautiful themes of salvation, trusting in God, and eternity. I know some would call Hall preachy, but this so-called “preachiness” is pretty common in my household, so I don’t find it unrealistic or annoying or any of that. It’s real, it’s true, and it’s powerful. I appreciate that.
Not to mention I really liked how Hall developed the story and let certain issues simmer before she got into the excitement—of which there was plenty! There was plenty of drama and suspense, which y’all know I can’t live without! (In fiction, I mean. I’ll take peace and quiet in reality, thank you very much.) She has the perfect balance of humor, high stakes, and hope—a winning combination for any story!
All that said, I’ll admit that I didn’t like Owen all that much. I loved every other character—Harry and Rose, their young’uns, Doyle—apart from the villains (like that filthy, yellow, no-good snake Victor)…but Owen just kind of fell flat for me. Was it because he was so rude and resentful toward Sally, whom I adore? Possibly. Was it because he lacked the kindness, respectfulness, and honorableness that Harry possessed? Probably. Was it because he just wasn’t all that swoon-worthy? Um…no, of course not. Whyever would you presume me to be so shallow?
Naw, seriously. Hall wrote Owen’s character expertly. I just didn’t like Owen. It’s as simple as that.
On that note, I think she did a consummate job of writing Owen’s spiritual/redemption arc. I mean, every time I felt like his heart was softening, it hardened back up again, leaving me wondering if he’d ever open his eyes to see Jesus…if there was anything that anyone could do or say to change his perspective or at least get him thinking. As much as the odds were against us, love and truth prevailed, and it didn’t seem forced or ill-timed or any of that. It was, well, real. I know I keep saying that, but it’s the best way to put it.
And just to throw it in there, the western setting is also so accurately portrayed, at least in my mind. Never over-the-top or excessive. Always giving off that feeling of realism. And Hall does a fabulous job of wrangling action and everything else at the same time, although I’ll be honest with y’all…I’m into the lengthy poetic prose, so her straightforward style can be a bit...straightforward. Not a bad thing, though, because it certainly helps the pacing!
Y’know, I think that about sums it up. Makes this one of my five shortest reviews ever. Seriously, though, if y’all are wondering about anything else, y’all just read the book yourselves. You won’t regret it, trust me!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own.
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About the Author
Kristina Hall is a sinner saved by grace who seeks to glorify God with her words. She is a homeschool graduate and holds a degree in accounting. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, arm wrestling, lifting weights, and playing the violin.