December 30, 2012 – From its corny cabin cover photo to its shivering and cheesy title, it’s obvious to prospective readers that Frozen Footprints is published by a small press. In fact, Tumblar House Books is so small, when compared to other established publishing groups out there, a David and Goliath analogy just doesn’t cut it.
On the other hand, it is trying to do what no one else is: provide quality Catholic fiction to an anti-Catholic world. Given their publishing capabilities, the lack of a fancy, contemporary look to the book is forgivable. Even after reading the book, however, the title fails to capture the imagination, or the thrust of the book as a whole.
Neither my pocketbook or my interest were inclining me to order, and sensate attraction was not the only problem. Suspense is not my genre, historical romance is. Nevertheless, I felt some some sort of social responsibility to support small Catholic business and brave Catholic authors, even if I suspected I wouldn’t care for the book. As it turned out, I received Frozen Footprints for the purpose of review from its author, Therese Heckenkamp.
I had just finished a Clive Cussler novel (suspense historical, of sorts), that took me three weeks to finish, but I was doggedly determined to keep on reading it, and it wasn’t that bad. I can say, though, it wasn’t hard for me to put down if I needed to.
I began Frozen Footprints thinking I would be doing the same thing. I was wrong. I read it in a single sitting and didn’t even notice the hours passing by.
My fears that the book would prove as corny as its cover were entirely unfounded. All the cliches for “nail-biter” and “edge of my seat” fiction apply when it comes to this book.
Ms. Heckenkamp surprised me with the quality of her fiction, not because I didn’t think she had it in her, but because her work was not as well-presented as it could have been. Tumblar House Books no doubt did all they could, but there is only so much a small press can do.
Frozen Footprint’s characters were believable, and for those young people who are raised in tradition, Charlene and Maxwell’s outlook may be enlightening. There are occasions of prosiness, especially in the beginning, but these lessen as the book continues. The narrative was clean, and the dialogue credible, but what I particularly liked was the organic way in which Therese brought her characters face to face with the most important questions of religious existence, how can a good God allow evil? and what does it take to truly be Catholic? She did it without preachiness or melodrama, and in a way that is reflective of what many Catholics may have faced at one point or another.
For this last, if nothing else, she should receive high marks from the reading public, especially the traditional Catholic public. Her ability to include religion without it seeming didactic takes finesse, and a refined writing sensibility.
She has presented us with contemporary Catholics, whose trials act as a catalyst for their spiritual struggle to maintain the Faith. These struggles result in a new-found fervor for a religion they thought they were unconnected to. Her characters discover that the misuse and abuse of the Faith by certain people does not reflect on the truth of the Faith itself. They discover they are more Catholic than they realized.
In sum, Frozen Footprints, corny title and cover notwithstanding, is a perennially entertaining read for anyone anywhere, but especially for traditional Catholics who are frequently hard up for contemporary fiction that is clean, Catholic, and interesting. Put it on your gift list this coming year. I know I will.