Book Reviews

The Amish Christmas Candle: Review by Susan Scott Ferrell


The Amish Christmas Candle – Starts with a Bang, Ends with a Whimper

I was in the mood for something Amish and something Christmas. When I found The Amish Christmas Candle, a collection of novellas by Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand, and Lisa Jones Baker, I thought perhaps I’d had my fix. Unfortunately it wasn’t all I hoped it to be. Here’s a brief synopsis of each and my take on them:

Snow Shine on Ice Mountain by Kelly Long tells the story of Naomi Gish, who is quite the talented candle maker on Ice Mountain. She’s thoughtful, kind – and feels extraordinarily plain and old. When her moonshine-running father decides to hand over the reins of his ill deeds to Grayson “Gray” Fisher, he uses the guise of Naomi needing help in her candle shop…and Naomi is none the wiser.

Gray is a player. He may be Amish, but he’s a lost soul. He knows that Naomi isn’t like the other girls – and that may just be a good thing.

My Take: As with most of the Ice Mountain books, this novella is rather overt when it comes to the physicality of a relationship. That being said, it delivers a good message about God’s grace. Additionally, the story really hold your interest ‘til the end. Definitely a well thought-out storyline.

A Honeybee Christmas by Jennifer Beckstrand takes readers to widower Yost Weaver and eccentric Bitsy Keim. They go back a long time – 35 years. Yost is set in his Amish ways, but when he forces grandson Levi to settle a misdeed with Bitsy, he comes along. After all, Bitsy has a reputation. Yost can’t stand her – until now!

Bitsy Keim returned from the Englisch world, after 20 years, to raise her three orphaned nieces. But she couldn’t leave many of her Englisch ways behind her – like her purple hair and dangly earrings. When sparks fly between Yost and Bitsy, who will bend? Yost is determined her can reform this wayward soul.

My Take: This was a fun novella, but a bit far-fetched as something credible that would happen in an Amish community. That being said, Bitsy in particular was an absolute hoot that I’d enjoy having as a quirky neighbor!

The Christmas Candle by Lisa Jones Baker introduces readers to Lydia Schultz who comes from a small family. Her only sister has recently married and she feels lost without her, especially at Christmas when they usually light a special candle for a special reason.

Mennonite John King happens upon Lydia who has just injured her ankle. He gives her a ride home and a friendship quickly develops. As providence would have it, John’s family’s bakery becomes part of Lydia’s reason for the special candle.

My Take: Unfortunately, Baker’s story leaves much to be desired. Strong editing is needed. For example: “The room seemed unusually quiet. Lydia realized that if she dropped a safety pin onto the dark oak that shone with wood polish, she would be able to hear it meet the floor.” Word choice is everything. And once the story IS edited for superfluous wording, you are left with nothing more than a very short, predictable narrative.

I was given The Amish Christmas Candle in exchange for my honest review. There are two unifying themes throughout each: a candle, and a less-than-traditional take on the Amish. It starts off with a victorious bang with Kelly Long’s Snow Shine, and ends with a whimper, with Lisa Jones Baker’s The Christmas Candle. Jennifer Beckstrand’s Honeybee Christmas is a close second after Long’s novella. But to end with Baker’s novella was not wise. When I finished the collection, I was left nonplussed. I truly would have liked to give this collection higher marks, and if I could rate each novella individually, the outcome would be much different. But to each his/her own. Read it and see what YOU think.

Susan Ferrell and her husband make their home in the Atlanta Metro area. Although Susan struggles with chronic migraine headaches, she stays very busy as a stay-at-home mom to one very precocious little girl. While catching her breath, she feeds her Amishaholic tendencies by reading vast amounts of Amish literature!

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