One Smooth Stone, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Castle Quay Books, 2007)
I expected One Smooth Stone to be good read. After all, the manuscript won the 2006 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award, earning publication by Castle Quay Books.
The novel’s tagline challenges, “No matter how far you run, God will find you. No matter what you’ve done, God will forgive you.” One endorsement labels it a thriller, but I disagree—it’s not Clancy-esque or high action. It’s a compelling read about hurt people fumbling toward healing, and about a God who won’t let go.
Marcia Laycock’s writing style is vivid and rich with sensory detail. She draws on her time in the North to evoke a strong sense of place. It would be worth reading just to experience the Yukon setting from our warm living rooms, but she also gives us lifelike characters to root for, suspense, and a puzzle to unravel.
Protagonist Alex Donnelly is a man with secrets, and Marcia Laycock brings them to light slowly, compassionately, and with a defter touch than a debut novelist should have. Alex’s and the other characters’ pain is neither minimized nor exploited, and it’s brought to light in a way that didn’t traumatize this chicken reader.
Hard questions and spiritual issues are treated naturally, with none of the heavy-handed preaching or pat answers found in some Christian novels. The story feels real, and it offers hope.
One Smooth Stone is the best Christian fiction I read in 2007, and its characters have a place in my heart.
This is a story for adults, male or female, wounded or whole. You can read the opening chapter of One Smooth Stone here. A much-anticipated sequel is in the works. [Edited: The Sequel, A Tumbled Stone, released in 2012. You can read my review here.]
Marcia Lee Laycock is a Canadian writer, speaker and pastor’s wife who lives in Alberta. Besides One Smooth Stone, she’s the author of two devotional books and sends a weekly devotional via email to over 4,000 subscribers. You can learn more about Marcia and her books at her website.