Hannah Heath is an indie-published author who runs an amazing website, (here is a link if you want to check it out), that teaches writing and geeks out over all the nerdy story stuff a writer could want to read about.
I was a huge fan of Hanah’s blog long before I read Skies of Dripping Gold.
I put off reading it for a long time, not because I didn’t think it was going to be amazing, but just because I was so intent on learning about writing and writing my own stories, that reading really fell out of my realm for a while.
But I finally set some time aside in December to get some actual reading done, and I started with Skies of Dripping Gold.
Skies of Dripping Gold is a YA Christian Dystopian Fantasy. At least, that’s how I saw it when I was reading it. (The actual “official” genre is much shorter than my less than perfect one. XD )
It is 324 pages long and features three main characters; Gabriel, his sister Lilly, and their friend Cole. There are other characters too, of course but these are the three that actually play a part in the stories events and theme.
Before I get in to the learning part of this review, I have to reveal my official Amazon review.
But this is a learning website, and because of that, we’re going to dive into some of the finer points of the story and see what we can learn about writing well from Skies of Dripping Gold.
SERIOUSLY SPOILERS COMING. ARE YOU READY?
WHAT I LIKED:
Okay, so the first thing I think it really worth looking at in this short story is the pacing.
Hannah did an excellent job making sure everything in this story (every scene, every character action) pulled the reader toward the conclusion.
From Gabriel angrily yelling at his boss to complain about his pay cut ( a cut that was going to prevent him from being able to buy Lilly’s medicine) to his climb up the mountain in order to see, once and for all, if there was any truth to the stories of a perfect world Lilly had absolute faith in. Each action dragged me one step closer to the heart breaking conclusion.
Another thing Hannah got right in Skies of Dripping Gold was the bittersweet ending. (Hey, I warned you there were spoilers.) I kind of had a feeling how things were going to end for Gabriel but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the ending. In fact, it only made me hesitate even more to set the story down. Gabriel was just trying so hard to save Lilly, trying so hard to prove in anyway possible that her vision of utopia is true, that when he failed to do so, it ripped my heart right in two. Bravo, Hannah. Bravo.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
I love myself a good allegory and in Skies of Dripping Gold, Hannah delivered. But, as with all allegories, there were plot holes in her narrative.
Her version of heaven was on a hill, well mountain really, that was impossible to climb, until the main character needed to climb it. Then he managed it with only minor injury. The elevator believers took up to heaven was a physical, kind of hard to miss structure just disappeared once Gabriel got to the top of the mountain. And “death” for believers was going up the elevator, but people could still die down below. So how would sudden deaths work?
That’s kind of the way of allegories, metaphors, and parables. They apply to one or two literal things, but stretch any of them too far (yes, even the Biblical parables which are arguably the most realistic of them all) and you’re going to find places where they don’t match up. Real life is just too complicated. I couldn’t put this in the LIKED section because it makes me sad that allegories can’t be perfect, but let me be clear: I loved this allegory. It was beautifully written, well thought out (as much as it could have been), and heart wrenching.
Double but, I also wanted to point out this problem to others who might be interested in writing an allegory. It can be tricky to find the right balance and then ignore the plot holes, even find ways to get them to work for you by adding darkness and mystery to the story. Hannah does a great job at this so if you want to read a great reference, I’d pick up a copy.
It’s also important to note, that I didn’t notice any of these inconsistencies until after I was done reading the story. Making sure your story is engaging can cover up a lot of plot issues and again, Hannah did a great job of that.
Skies of Dripping Gold is a beautiful allegorical look at what can happen to faith when faced with the world’s brutal “reality” as one boy tries to protect his sister from that reality.
It’s beautifully written, well thought out, and heart-wrenching. It’s also a great tool for learning how to write a great allegory. So consider picking up a copy from Amazon sometime.
And if you do, feel free to stop back by and let me know if you agree with my assessments on it. I love me some book chats!