I’ve been asked to do a book review of Mary DeMuth’s latest book, A Slow Burn. I’ll get to that, but first let me do a review of Mary DeMuth herself.

This past April I was sitting in a classroom at the Mount Hermon Retreat and Conference Center in Northern California, waiting for my major morning track to begin. I’m an author, and I’d signed up for Mary’s class because the description sounded like the best of three options. I’d never heard of her before, and was secretly hoping that the class would be worth my while. I mean really—the year before I’d sat in Angie Hunt’s class (she’s written over a hundred novels, people!) and hung on her every word. So who was this “new chick?”

Let me back up. I arrived at the Conference a day and a half late because I’d officiated a wedding the weekend it started, so by the time I stumbled into the cafeteria looking for someone who could help me find my room, I was blinking fatigue sludge and aching for beddy-bye. I couldn’t find any Conference Staff, but I did find a table packed with Conference Faculty (a gaggle of famous authors and an agent or two enjoying some laughs over bad coffee before calling it a day). Sheepish, I explained my problem, and Mary was the first to jump up and help out.

Now back to her class. Mary was articulate, helpful, down to earth—and best of all, passionately in love with Jesus. It was a great class full of all kinds of practical writing help, but the best part was interacting with a woman of God who brought her intimacy with Jesus to every tap of the keyboard and wanted to help us do the very same thing.

At the end of the class, we all exchanged Twitter names and called it a Conference. I’ve Twittered with Mary on and off over the past few months and have enjoyed her willingness to invest in my writing. She read and blogged about Finding Home, which I was thrilled about—and then gave me a five star review on Amazon to boot. I ordered her latest book, Daisy Chain, partly out of friendly obligation and partly out of curiosity.

The moment I started reading, I realized two things simultaneously: One, this wasn’t my kind of book. And two, I didn’t much care because it was so well written. I mean, seriously, people—this woman is gifted. “Achingly beautiful,” an endorsement on the back says, and that’s bang on. Mary doesn’t just write, she captures something… something vital and real and wonderful all at the same time. She’s a master of character development and Daisy Chain is a work of art, plain and simple.

A work of art that sets the stage for what I believe is a masterpiece—The second book in what will soon become a trilogy. Her latest is called “A Slow burn,” and even more than with Daisy Chain, I marvelled at a level of craftsmanship that, quite honestly, firmly establishes my own writing at the “hack” level for the time being. As a writer, I often found myself savouring various passages and phrases, every once and awhile even muttering aloud, “How does she DO that?!?” As a reader, I found myself caught up in a story so deep, so profound and wonderful that I could hardly put it down, to borrow a cliche. But the most stunning element of Mary’s writing is her unflinching honesty. Her characters are not rescued from wallowing, struggling, even agonizing—and she invites us into these valleys so effectively that we ache along with them.

So, bottom line? Read the books. Enter the story. Engage your heart. God touched my soul as I let it happen, and I pray you will too.