Out of the Ruins

Out of the Ruins

Out of the Ruins | The Golden Gate Chronicles, Book 1

Abby’s shattered faith in both God and man is challenged when the terrible earthquake hits 1906 San Francisco.

While her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn’t expect, however, is for God’s answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best.

As they work together toward a cure, Abby’s feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now? Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?

Learn more and purchase a copy at Karen’s website.


  • I absolutely love when a historical fiction book is based around real events and I can re-live the events through the characters. I don’t much about this time in history or San Francisco so this book was really interesting to me and Karen Barnett did a really good job of making that time in history come alive!

    Besides the great historical aspect, this book was also a great romance between Abby and Robert and I loved watching their romance and faith in God grow even through adversity.

    This book was really well written and Karen Burnett has quickly become one of my new favorite authors! Plus, I can’t wait for more books in this series!

  • The pages seemed to turn on their own which were full of information and wisdom. Ms. Barnett gave the characters such charm and grace at times. She presented the romance in a tactful manner, and how prayer can sometimes be left unanswered in our own minds. The author left us with this reminder, God is always as close to us as the next breathe.

  • This isn’t your regular love story. It’s so much more. Abby’s journey to faith is the most significant part of this book in my eyes. I loved the way the main characters’ thoughts were often in italics after their spoken words. The insight into the doubts and fears faced by someone struggling to believe in God but putting demands and conditions on Him was poignant. Everyone always seems so self-assured around us, but if we could hear their inner talk, we’d be surprised….

  • An exciting storyline and relatable characters are what makes this book interesting!

  • Set in San Francisco in the early 1900’s, this book captures both the personal journeys of its characters as well as the big earthquake that nearly destroyed the city in 1906. I’d never read anything set around that particular historical event, and that uniqueness was what drew me to the story. I didn’t expect to also find interesting medical information from that time period, which was an added bonus to this history lover.

  • I loved Karen Barnett’s first book and was thrilled to review this one. It didn’t disappoint!

  • Out of the Ruins is not what I expected … in a good way. I thought most of the book would center around the earthquake, and while a large portion of it does, the first third of the book does a great job of introducing the characters and helping the reader understand exactly why Abby is so angry with God. Barnett also offers a fascinating glimpse into the early use of radiation to treat cancer.

    The second part of the book takes place over four days, beginning with the earthquake on April 18, 1906. The action shifts back and forth between Robert and Abby as they each search for loved ones following the quake. I found this section to be the heart of the book, and Barnett did an excellent job of bringing the reader into the chaos following the quake.

  • I really enjoyed this book. The first part was about Abby’s sister Cecelia’s fight with leukemia and how Drs. King and Larkspur were using the new technique of X-ray therapy to treat the disease. It was interesting to read about the beginnings of cancer research. The second part is about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and it’s aftermath. After reading this, it is hard to fathom how these people endured not knowing if their loved ones were alive or not. This was a very well written book that kept my attention from beginning to end. The faith element in this book was awesome. When Abby learned to rely on GOD, everything go easier. Great job.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

  • The issues brought up in this book are perfectly suited to modern times. For one thing, prejudice hasn’t changed completely in the century since these events took place. Additionally, there were people willing to commit crimes against their neighbors even in those days. Some things never change, though. Things like compassion, love, and the fight to survive are still with us. The little details in this story are what will tug at your heart.

  • This book was interesting and engaging.Having never read any books previously by Ms. Barnett I was excited to read this one and I am glad I did! I am a big fan of historical fiction, but it is rare to find one that I truly enjoyed but I loved this book and enjoyed finding out more about the San Franscisco earthquake.
    I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  • Barb Shelton says:

    Karen Barnett’s story is charged with high voltage emotion encircling factual detail of the historical San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Although the characters and story are fictional, the realism rings authentic. Be prepared to experience heart jerking responses during your tour through this shocking event. Expect to audibly gasp and feel the need to pray for the situations described as seen on a wide screen movie. This is a sensational writing.

  • Cassandra’s Review- Perhaps a love story out of a tragedy and a mix of emotions entwined in the chapters. The Author made the characters believable and you can easily get lost in the story. Excellent read!
    I received a complimentary copy of this book.

  • Out Of Ruins by Karen Barnett was an interesting book to read. I wasn’t 100% in love with this book but I did enjoy reading it.

  • WORD Up! says:

    As a cancer survivor, I was fascinated by the course of treatment pursued at this point in history. This backbone of the story’s plot led me to do some online research which revealed that the author had done her research as well, with regard to cancer treatment, but also the happenings in San Francisco in 1906. Karen Barnett has created an educational and entertaining glimpse into America’s past!

  • An incredible story of strength, faith, forgiveness. I loved every moment of it and could not put this book down. I could relate to Abby on so many levels and her feelings were relatable. A definite must read for all book lovers!

  • Written with much emotion and great sensitivity, Karen unfolds this novel of sister-love, and weaves in the life of a doctor trying to live out faith and pursue scientific discovery.

    As you read, your heart will wrench for Abby. You’ll long for her to understand Cecelia’s faith, which is placed higher than this earth.
    You may find yourself praying for the Fischer family as you read.

    Ultimately, this is a story about The Hound of Heaven, the pursuing God who chases down His children and continues to appear in their lives no matter how often He is rebuked. Abby and God’s relationship takes center stage in this historical novel, and Karen brings it all to life for us readers.

  • Karen, the author kept me turning the page. My heart, I swear stopped beating in a few places, and I needed a tissue here and there. It is a must read.

  • If you enjoy historical fiction with elements of non-fiction and a bit of romance then this book will need to be added to your beach read (or a/c in the living room read).

  • This is such a touching story ! I really enjoyed it. A story of love between Sisters, love for children and the love between a man and a woman. It really held my attention. It shows that when tragedy strikes we can all still find strength in God and in others.

  • This was a novel of love, faith and family. We are always ready to do anything we can to help our families. When one of our family is sick or injured we will do all that we can. In this novel by Karen Barnett we meet a young woman who has an accident happen to a family member. She finds someone that she thinks can help her, and they grow closer as they try to find something that will help her. –

  • What a great book! Characters were so well defined that they practically stepped off the page. I loved the authors unique descriptions and her deft blending of romance and history. I felt like I had a new understanding of early cancer treatment and xray technology as well as the absolute horror experienced by thousands during the great San Francisco earthquake. And in the midst of the mesmerizing story, I got a well thought out lesson in faith. I enjoyed reading about the xray treatments but kept wanting to tell them they shouldn’t expose themselves to it so much!

  • I love historical fiction novels that offer a look into a time that isn’t emphasized much. Out of the Ruins offered a wonderful glimpse into the beginning of the 20th century in San Fransisco where the world is starting to morph into the modern era that it is today.

  • What an intense read. This book took me into a way different story than I was expecting. I had to keep reading to know which way the story would turn because I really had no idea. San Francisco back in the day must have been something, I wish I could travel back in time! This book takes you before the earthquake, during, and after, which makes it all the more unique. Abby’s character drives me crazy the majority of the book. Granted this makes the storyline and she grows throughout the book so by the end I liked her a bit more. The male lead in this book is great and I enjoyed reading about his character. My favorite part is the setting and how calm the world was before the earthquake.

  • WordSmith says:

    Karen Barnett brought history to life with this book, chronicling the plights Abby, a young woman with shaky faith, and Dr. Robert King, as they navigate the burning streets of San Francisco to find their loved ones after the great earthquake and fire of 1906.

    The characters in this book were memorable and well developed, as was the plot. As icing on the cake, the historical aspect of this book was just as rich.

  • This novel addresses the steady path to healing through Laura discovering her own inner strength.It is an easy read and one for beginner’s who enjoy faith based novels.

  • Moments says:

    Karen Barnett is a new author to me, yet based on what I have read she is one whom will be on my must-read list! “Out of the Ruins” is the first book in Karen’s Golden Gate Chronicles series and I am looking forward to reading book 2! Karen has done a fabulous job with bringing the time period to life in this book as she transports the reader back in time to the early 1900’s and also a historical event as well.

  • This is such a great novel based on the two fold research that went into its creation. From the background on medical practices of the early 1900’s to the unfolding of the tragic earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. I found myself relating quite a bit to Abby. While she has such a profound love for her sister, she is still weak in her faith and believes prayer is simply a wish list for God to answer. She will have her faith tested in the direst of circumstances when she finds herself all alone in a city while her family remains lost in the multitude attempting to escape the ruins of San Francisco and find safety. She learns that God never leaves us in the midst of our circumstances but walks faithfully by our side!

  • Perhaps the most poignant thing about this story is the importance God plays in… everything. I respect and appreciate how Karen weaves Him in every part of her story – not just in how she represents His presence, also in the fact that even with struggling feelings about these characters respective faith, the bigger pieces of Christianity don’t seem pushy or overwhelming. To this reader, it means a lot when the faith doesn’t overwhelm yet still pulls out all of the stops; when a story is unafraid to be whatever it needs to be to mold around a beautiful message, that’s kind of faith is what shines.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading Out of the Ruins. The plot flowed well and I was drawn into the story. I enjoyed meeting the characters, walking with them through their grief and trials and watching them stretch and grow as they were faced with such hardship. I am looking forward to reading the next book in The Golden Gate Chronicles.

  • This is a beautiful story of relationships (sisters, God and man, man and woman) set a midst tragic circumstances. Readers will be drawn in by the wonderful characters and rich story. It is compelling and riveting. If you like historical romance, this book is for you. Reading groups may find it an interesting book for discussion as well.

  • Best Reads says:

    Fascinating on so many levels. The historical details had me riveted. The earthquake and subsequent fire that ravaged San Francisco was gut-wrenching to read about. Barnett brings this era to life. I could smell the smoke, taste the grit, feel the desperation and fear of every moment.

    Abby does a lot of growing throughout the book. In the beginning, her rigidity creates barriers between God, family, and friends. Fearful of being left behind — and being left alone — she doesn’t realize that it is her own mindset and actions that become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Her personal journey of growth is powerful. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Abby emerges transformed after passing through the refining fires of a tumultuous time.

  • Do not start this book late at night because it will cost you sleep as you will keep flipping pages as fast as you can read.

  • I had forgotten about the whole earthquake aspect of this story by the time I got around to reading this book, and didn’t even realize it until I noticed the dates of all the preceding events. The story about Abby’s sister, Cecelia, her cancer diagnosis, and how Robert and his mentor, Gerald, who is also Abby’s cousin, mean to cure the cancer, is riveting in and of itself. When you throw in the plot involving the earthquake, the book just soars. I was gripped until the very end.

  • This book was so well written. It’s plain to see the amount of research that went into it, from the experimental treatment to the devastation of the earthquake, because it’s so rich in historical detail. It came alive with every stroke of Karen’s fingers on the keyboard. It’s a story of love, hope, family and faith, a story of reconciliation. It’s not often that a story hooks me from the very first page but this one hooked me like a fish. It gives us hope. A hope that, no matter the devastation we are going through, there are brighter days ahead. It will speak to your very soul and leave footprints on your heart. It’s pure gold in black and white. I hadn’t read anything by Karen Barnett before but she is definitely on my list of favorites now. Highly recommended!

  • I am looking forward to reading more from this series and (fingers crossed) hopefully see Abby and Robert’s story continued! If you enjoy interesting historical reads, then this is definitely the book for you.

  • There have been many novels written about the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. I’ve even read a couple of them. None, however, have grabbed me quite like this sophomore release from Karen Barnett. Out of the Ruins is not just a romance that uses the earthquake as a background. The earth-shaking event is central to the narrative as the reader experiences the initial quake, its aftershocks, and the fire through the eyes of the main characters.

  • After hearing several things about this author’s debut I jumped at the chance to read this book! Thankfully it didn’t disappoint and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it!
    Abby and Robert were both strong characters and I liked them both. I feel like the lessons they had to learn about God were ones that a lot of people struggle with and the author handled them both very well.
    I really enjoyed all the historical aspects from the San Francisco earthquake to the early studies of radiation to fight cancer. I think the author did a great job of blending fact with fiction.
    I’m sorry this review is so short but I can’t think of much else to say beyond that fact that this book captured my attention and I kept wanting to know what would happen next!

  • Veronica's 'Views says:

    There was a lot to like here, with great characters, plenty of action and a sweet romance. I especially liked Abby’s struggle to understand a God who doesn’t always answer prayers the way we would like. The suspense kept building as the days are counted down to the great San Francisco earthquake and I found it fascinating to follow Abby and Robert as they help people in the aftermath, then are separated and she struggles to survive on her own as the city burns down around her. This story has a great message that God is always watching over us and goes with us.

  • I’m not familiar with the author’s other novel, Mistaken, but I’m extremely impressed with her writing style and her in-depth research she must have done to give the accurate descriptions of the 1900s throughout the novel. Her narrative is emotional and haunting; leaving you thinking about Abby long after you finished reading each chapter. Overall, Out Of The Ruins is one of the most original, character-driven novel that I have read this year and it should be on everyone’s must-read lists for 2014.

  • The themes of wrestling out one’s faith during deep heartache really touched my heart as well as being angry at God and trying to understand why He allows events to unfold. There is romance that begins to blossom quickly between Abby and the young doctor, but will it stand through the grief as the city burns around them? I was reminded again of how the Chinese women were viewed during this period of history along with the brave and compassionate missionary workers who sought to bring them out of slavery here in America. The faith these young women have in the book is an amazing reminder of redemption from the evil pursuits of others. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!

  • Out of the Ruins is the first novel I’ve read by Karen Barnett, but I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading more from her soon. If you like Christian fiction with heavy spiritual themes and a little bit of everything, Out of the Ruins is a book you’ll want to look into. The Golden Gate Chronicles has all the makings of a great new series.

  • I liked everything about the book…the plot, characters, events. Well written, fast paced, emotional, story of love, grief, and the will to live.

  • Set in the backdrop of San Francisco, California before the historic earthquake in 1906, Out of the Ruins is a soul-searching tale of death and loss, hope and faith. Karen Barnett has developed a gripping tale of God’s faithfulness through fire and flames.

  • I noticed how Abby was so overwhelmed when she heard about a possible cure for her sister and was determined to charge full steam ahead not listening or considering the downside of the the treatment and the move. Love sometimes blinds and causes people to make rash decisions. This story was fast read for me since I did not want to put the book down. I very much liked the historical side of the medical research and then the historical facts of the earthquake.

    I highly recommend this book.

  • Out Of The Ruins is a fascinating book on so many levels. It draws you in from the start and is one of those books that once you start it – you won’t want to put it down!

    If you enjoy inspirational stories that successfully combine the genres of sweet romance and compelling historical fiction, then you will enjoy Out Of The Ruins.

  • A wonderful story with lots of meaning. Great debut novel that I thoroughly enjoyed!! Characters who connect with you as you travel their life road.

  • This story is about a woman who thinks she can make a deal with God and when what she wanted more than anything didn’t happen, she is mad and is upset with God and why did he do this to her and her family.

    God answers our prayers in ways that might not make sense to us at the time, but in not giving her what she wanted in the first place, she got something even more powerful later on.

    Living through pain and disasters can either bring out the worst in people or the best. You have to choose which way is your way and I think what happens is that God gets blamed for us making choices when really he is hoping and putting his trust in us to make the right decision. Yes, bad things do happen all the time, but what do you do with that?

  • First of all, I must say that the cover of this book is beautiful. I like how they blended the top big picture with the smaller picture of the town. He colors blended well and were tied together with the blue banner and the font. It is very eye-catching and beautiful to look at.

    This fiction book is so full of history. I had absolutely no idea about the earthquake in 1906, nor about the devastation that it caused. I also found the experimental treatment for Abby’s sister interesting.

  • Wow, this is the first time I have read a novel about the San Francisco earthquake. Karen did a great job describing the earthquake, the aftershocks, and the fire that it made me feel as if I was there. This story also brought to mind all the times I would try to make deals with God when I was growing up. Like Abby it also took major upheaval in my life for me to come to stop doubting God love.

  • Abby’s sister Cecilia is dying and Abby is trying to bargain with God. Maybe that’s working, because when Papa called Cousin Gerald, he was told there might be a doctor in San Francisco who could help Cecilia.

    San Francisco’s a real mess and hope is growing dim.

    Thank you, Ms Barnett. I’m looking forward to Beyond the Ashes.

  • I felt like I was there, running through the streets of San Francisco, trying to navigate the chaos of a city whose streets are torn up and buildings are on fire. This was a great book. I look forward to reading others in this series and other books by this author.

  • My thoughts: I LOVE learning while I read. I thought Barnett did a wonderful job of creating a detailed and highly descriptive picture of what the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (and aftermath) was like. I also enjoyed learning about the medical treatments of the turn of the century. I found that I could relate to Abby in her struggle to understand why her prayers were not answered in the way she would have chosen. I did feel that there were times in the 2nd half of the book that the story line dragged a bit, but I was still motivated to keep reading to see how everything turned out in the end. This is the first in a series of books called the Golden Gate Chronicles, and I am definitely looking forward to book #2!

  • Author Karen Barnette does a fantastic job of so vividly describing the scenes throughout the book to help readers better understand the tragic events that took place. As I read about Dr. King and Abby being separated during the earthquake, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people in real life went through the same situation. This was a most interesting read, and especially since it was centered around a real life tragic even in history.

  • Out of the Ruins is a gripping, emotionally powerful story. While Abby’s sister is dying, Abby is praying for God to spare her life; but God doesn’t answer the way Abby thinks He should.

    The spiritual struggle Abby experienced resonates with me as I am currently battling with feelings of my own that my prayers don’t seem to be reaching God.

    I am really looking forward to the other books in this series!

  • This book was very interesting because it took place during a certain part of San Francisco’s history. To not only lose a loved one, and to have a devastating earthquake is bad enough, but to lose your faith is worse. I also enjoyed the new treatments and how new medicine was being introduced into the world. History and romance are both in this book, with a healthy dose of faith. I am giving this book a 4/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own.

  • Karen Barnett takes you on an odyssey of medicine when it was in its early infancy. It is mixed with a budding romance. I appreciate the author bringing out the fact not everyone has a rock solid faith.

  • Out of the Ruins is a beautifully written and romantic book full of intense imagery and heartfelt characters. I really enjoyed the historical side of the story, set at the turn of the century in San Francisco in 1905, and during the San Francisco earthquake. The story is full of strong characters who experience intense pain and grief.

  • The story starts out focusing on Abby’s anger at God and desperate deal-making with Him to cure her beloved sister from leukemia. It’s an emotional time for her, and she refuses to give up or accept that nothing can be done, even when her faith-filled sister was at peace with passing on. The real intensity begins with the aftermath of the earthquake. How much we take for granted our ability to communicate! I can’t even imagine being separated from my family with no idea where they are. The adversities Abby overcomes during the search for her family humble her to listen to the influence of her sister’s memory and turn to God for comfort and recognizes His hand in many great and small miracles that day.

  • Oh Abby…I smiled with you, I cried with you and I held my breath as one awful thing after another happened to you. I hoped and wished for a happy ending…but I won’t spoil it for others by giving away if you found one. Karen Barnett took a period of time that was tragic for so many and tells the beautiful story of one woman’s journey to finding herself, letting go of others and finding love in the midst of tragedy.

  • I enjoyed the characters and the story line. I felt this book was more interesting to me than most historical novels. I think Karen Barnett is a great author. I would be very interested to read the next book in this series.

  • This book, is a simple love story set just before the earth-shattering 1906 San Francisco earthquakes. The novel surrounds Abby, a thoughtful, curious young woman, who finds her world turned upside down after the horrific events of the earthquake, and in its wake must seek to find both love and faith, in a world now unbenounced to her. The pinnacle of the story centers on Abby’s wish to help find a cure for her sister, only to find out that her prayers are answered in more than one way, by Dr. Robert King, a handsome, yet unknown experimental practitioner. As the pair team-up to work together toward a cure, Abby’s feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the San Francisco earthquake, their love must then earnestly seek to survive their own circumstance in the face of this great tragedy.

  • The first part is pretty slow moving and mostly interesting as the doctors are experimenting with new x-ray techniques. It got very sad and slow at the end of part 1 and I actually put it down for over a day [that’s a long time for me.] When I picked it back up I quickly found out that part 2 is fast paced with lots going on and I pretty much didn’t put it down until I finished it.

    The message of God loving and being with the heroine is shown throughout the book – even though the heroine thinks the exact opposite.

    I think the book is well researched and well written. I’m not sure that I would jump at the opportunity to read number 2 in the series, but I think that readers that love drama and historical fiction would love this and future stories.

  • Not only was Out of the Ruins full of amazing characters and a wonderful story line that flowed nicely, but it was also a very emotional read. The book is a true masterpiece within the genre of historical fiction. It brings the reader right into the world of 1906 San Fransico and the tremendous earthquake that rocked that area. A truly educational read to be sure. More importantly, it’s a read that reminds the reader that we really cannot make deals with God. He has a plan for our life, and is with us in both good and bad times, whether we understand why or not. This book moved fast enough to keep my interest in a way that I just did not want to put it down, and I loved the mix of romance and history as well.
    I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

  • I really love reading historical fiction, especially when the author does her job well and you feel transported back in time as though you were there yourself. Barnett achieves this and more in this great read.

    I also enjoy it when books explore theological issues such as, in this case, God’s sovereignty throughout the good and bad in our lives. Barnett addresses this but does so in a way that doesn’t make it feel like a heavy or ponderous read. God is with us, He is good, and He is faithful.

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