Allison's Book Bag

Every Hill and Mountain by Deborah Heal

Posted on: May 13, 2013

Some authors catch your interest with their first book but can’t sustain it through to the third in the trilogy. With her Christian time travel set, author Deborah Heal has done the opposite. Back when I reviewed her first entry, Time and Again, I criticized it as having lots of flaws common to new authors. The second entry of Unclaimed Legacy showed improved. Now Heal has released her third, Every Hill and Mountain, and it’s my favorite in the series. For those of you unfamiliar with the trilogy, it involves an unusual plot about house software that enables the characters to travel back in time.

Before I point out the positives about Every Hill and Mountain, I’ll start with the one outstanding negative. Perhaps because the time travel element is virtual and only through software, it has never engaged me. I prefer time travel stories, where the characters actually enter the ancient or future world to which they magically travel. Also, there are too many conveniences about the software for it to feel real and so it didn’t ring true that the characters who encounter it would immediately accept it. Last, the “story-within a story” technique bothered me. On one level, the Time and Again series is about a college girl who governs a troubled teen and along the way develops other friendships and falls in love. Thanks to the time travel element, there’s a second layer about slavery, prejudice, and other dark issues. Because neither make for strong stand-alone stories, the time travel element feels like a device to moralize about past wrongs instead of an integral part.

This flaw side, I highly enjoyed other aspects of Every Hill and Mountain. Main character Abby has of course returned. Although still overly polite and proper, Abby is not above eating junk food, staying up into the wee hours of the night, or trespassing so that she can time travel with her house software. As with the average college student, Abby also dreams of marriage but feels insecure about how serious her date is about their relationship. Since book one, Abby has grown on me and now feels like an old friend. Her love interest, John, reappears and is now finding himself in some uncomfortable situations. For example, a pastor catches John hiding with Abby in a dark room in the church. Although John tries to live as Christians, he isn’t immune to feelings of irritation or anger. John is an ideal but realistic boyfriend. The other main character is Kate. Her presence was minimal in the earlier books, but now she takes a dominant role because Abby is helping Kate trace her family tree. Kate drives over the speed limit, keeps herself busy with socials, and mostly acts like a college girl until her engagement to Ryan. She serves as a counterbalance to Abby and, as such, the two seem like the perfect friends. With Ryan, Heal has given readers someone to dislike and I enjoyed having a reason to tell off a character every few pages. 🙂 What I appreciated most about Ryan though is that he had moments of being nice and of being scared. In other words, he managed to at times rise above being a stereotypical jerk. 🙂

Establishing a sense of place proved to be one of Heal’s strengths in her Time and Again trilogy. Nothing has changed with this third entry. In Every Hill and Mountain, Heal continues to effectively provide the lay of the land and then to narrow her descriptions to the building or room the characters are in. Consider these two sentences: “The day was typical for southern Illinois in late August, hot and humid. At least, she was sitting on an icy, albeit uncomfortable seat in the shady pavilion.” Or this longer example: “The map showed they would be entering Shawnee Forest soon. Trees were visible on the horizon but, in the near distance, men in huge earth-moving equipment worked the red clay. A sign on the right side of the highway….” It probably helps that besides doing a ton of research, Heal also set her characters in locations familiar to her from childhood. Repeatedly throughout Every Hill and Mountain, I felt as if I were walking or driving right next to Abby and her friends. Heal successfully made her world come alive.

It only took me a weekend, and that being one with interruptions of birthdays and other celebrations, to read Every Hill and Mountain. I didn’t want to put it down; that’s how eager I was to find out what happened. If you liked the first two books, you’ll love this one. And no matter what, if you like Christian romances, this is a worthy set.

To find out more about the history behind the Time and Again trilogy, check out these links:

My rating? Read them: Borrow from your library or a friend. They’re worth your time.

How would you rate these books? 

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2 Responses to "Every Hill and Mountain by Deborah Heal"

Thanks for the detailed, thoughtful, and helpful critique! It means a lot to me.

You’re welcome! I will be sharing your trilogy this summer with my step-mom and my teenage sister.

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