Journey Under Heaven

Part One

Fiction - Inspirational
420 Pages
Reviewed on 01/20/2022
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Author Biography

Combining a longtime love of different time eras in history and a heart for everyday people, Daria Cyr’s novels are meant for everyone, whether Christian or those searching to find a relationship with their Creator. Her characters are also involved in issues that do not usually get addressed in novels of faith.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Journey Under Heaven is the first part of a duology by Daria Cyr. This religious and inspirational story follows Autumn Sawyer. Set in the 1800s, Autumn belongs to a privileged family, yet she feels like she belongs. While nothing can compromise the love her father showers on her, Autumn feels there is something monumental missing from her life. And so, Autumn starts a journey of soul searching and finds her solace in the Creator. Autumn finally finds the spark she was missing all her life. However, she doesn’t get the support she needs. Autumn first tried to keep everything a secret from the people in her life and later pushed God away. But is it wise to push God away when you have just found Him? What happens to those who abandon God, believing that God abandoned them?

Some people might find Journey Under Heaven to be controversial, but I found this to be very soothing. Autumn’s character is relatable and believable, a combination that is very hard to find these days. Her development is beautiful. Readers get to watch Autumn gain confidence as her faith in God becomes powerful, and you can almost feel her euphoria when she first discovers God and starts getting close to Him. Author Daria Cyr writes a compelling narrative that makes readers want to read more and discover more. The theme of discovering yourself, getting out of your comfort zone, and experiencing something truly exhilarating (freeing) are handled with exceptional care and mastery. Well done!

K.C. Finn

Journey Under Heaven: Part One is a work of fiction in the inspirational, religious, and interpersonal drama subgenres, and was penned by author Daria Cyr. Although it contains no explicitly graphic material, the novel is best suited to the mature reading audience owing to the presence of highly sensitive themes such as arranged marriages, mental illness, and women’s physical struggles in and out of the marital home. Taking up religious themes of the ever-present watchful eye of God and the power of conviction of faith, our central protagonist Autumn Sawyer is a woman who yearns to develop her true self in the late 1800s. With God at her side, Autumn must learn to be fearless and explore that which she did not dare in order to know herself, and God, better.

Author Daria Cyr has crafted a truly intriguing opening to this two-part series, and she sets up Autumn and her struggles very well. It’s an interesting time to set a novel, and the conflicts between science and religion offer a great backdrop to Autumn’s personal journey and create a tense atmosphere for the time period. As the story progressed, I felt the author come into her stride and let us know more and more of who Autumn truly is, which was aided by some very powerful dialogue moments when she starts to fully explore her place and her faith. It’s evident on every page that this author has a devoted spiritual message to send to all readers, and I’d certainly recommend Journey Under Heaven: Part One to all those seeking stories about trusting in faith and God’s plan for us all.

Vincent Dublado

Part One of Journey Under Heaven by Daria Cyr proves that this two-part novel is a better story than just hinging on a spiritual theme. It has a good approach to the search for meaning in a Christian existentialist kind of way. The story centers on a young woman who was born Anastasia Charlamaine Thorndike in the year 1884. She is a sheltered child who belongs to a well-to-do family with an ongoing legacy of paving the path for those who would follow. That said, it is deemed unacceptable to not become more successful than one’s father. As the young and endearing Anastasia is growing up under the extreme proper norms of the Victorian era, she begins to develop the need to enjoy herself and to be free. Thus begins her journey to find her calling and true self. Part of it is her desire to change her name. Inspired by her favorite literary character, Tom Sawyer, an adventurous spirit who explores beyond limits, her new life begins as Autumn Sawyer.

It is clear that Journey Under Heaven has an agenda, but this is brilliantly handled by the story’s structure that explores character actions instead of unconsciously proselytizing the way other faith-based stories do. You won’t have any problems believing the plotline of this story. As a writer, Daria Cyr has a way of appealing to both your emotions and intellect through a potent mixture of an inspiring narrative and sympathetic character. What you get is a story that somehow renews your confidence in the significance of having faith. I found myself enjoying this story, and it breaks any of my preconceptions about its ulterior motives. Cyr knows how to make a point, and she doesn’t have to push the depths of belief, because it is up to you to find it in her tale. Journey Under Heaven is a feel-good novel that doesn’t cut corners. Even those who are not into spirituality may find this book a delight and look forward to Part Two.

Edith Wairimu

Journey Under Heaven: Part One by Daria Cyr is an uplifting novel that follows the childhood and coming-of-age years of a young girl who, despite the hardships she faces, carves out a way for herself with the help of kind friends. Though born into a life of privilege, Autumn Sawyer, born Anastasia Thorndike, faces multiple difficulties and disheartening losses but does not lose her spark. From her birth in 1884, she enjoys a close relationship with her father which her mother perceives as a threat to her relationship with her husband. Her mother’s frail condition, her unique opinions in a rigid society, and the drastic changes in her life test her strength. But Autumn is determined to live life by her own rules and not those set by the society she grows up in.

Journey Under Heaven: Part One develops a strong, kind character who struggles in a world that devalues women. The book includes other fascinating characters with complex personalities such as Autumn’s mother who suffers from mental illness. It instills values of self-confidence and determination through Autumn’s struggles with illness, bullying in school, and the losses she later suffers. The moving scenes in the book are balanced by some light-hearted moments which include the precious times Autumn spends with her loving father. I loved that the book contains many gripping turns as Autumn’s life takes different paths through the years. It also explores many critical themes including those about family relationships, friendships, gender inequality, and faith. Journey Under Heaven: Part One by Daria Cyr is an empowering novel with a delightful main character and many touching scenes.

Joy Hannabass

Journey Under Heaven: Part One by Daria Cyr follows a young girl's life from birth to a young lady trying to find where she belongs in life. Life for Anastasia was difficult from the beginning because her mother has nothing to do with her, except having Anastasia attend an all-girls school, where she will be taught proper education and social etiquette. She's only had her father to rely on for anything else she needs, and he is always there for her. But through a series of losses and helping others, Anastasia is left with nothing, working first in a bakery, then working with a seamstress to learn to sew. Finally, she figures out her life's calling and works with a friend of her father's as an apprentice until she learns the trade. Then Anastasia is off on an adventure to find where she is most needed.

Though I enjoyed Journey Under Heaven, the first several chapters are slow reading, but then it starts getting much better. The characters start to develop more deeply as the story unfolds. I liked Anastasia and her father; these two characters show the sweet relationship between a father and his daughter. The losses and heartbreaks  Anastasia faced at a young age broke my heart, but she soars over what life throws at her and is determined to be the strong young woman her father raised her to be. I won't go into the losses because it will give away too much of the story. The name change before moving to a new state to start her new life is interesting and a smart move, I think. I like the mention of Louisa May Alcott and Little Women in this book and I love the discussions the teacher had with the students about the book. Overall, Journey Under Heaven Part One by Daria Cyr is a very good story and very much worth your time reading it. If you are a history buff, you will enjoy this one.