Monthly Archives: July 2009

An Audio Book Coming Up

I’ve been quiet for a while now.  Wondering why? I went to New York City with our church youth group on a mission trip for 10 days. Now I’m back, and trying to figure out which thing needs to be done first.

Just wanted to let you know that I listened to an audio book while on the road.  I’m not ready to report on it yet.  This audio book is unusual in that you can’t buy it in print–it’s only published as an audio. Also, it has plenty of original folksy music in it.

More later!–Phyllis Wheeler

Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by RJ Anderson, a Review

faery

Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R.J.Anderson, a Review
Published 2009 by HarperCollins, 329 pages
Genre: Fairy fantasy, middle grade, appealing to girls. Underlying plot is a whodunit, with romantic overtones. This work, a bestseller in Britain, is not overtly Christian.

A faery child, Bryony, is part of a colony of faeries (seven-inch-tall, winged creatures, all female) living in an oak tree in England.

One day the child Bryony impetuously breaks the rules and climbs out of the tree trunk. She comes face to face with a human child, an encounter neither ever forgets.

The problem is that the faery colony is slowly dying. Only the queen of the colony still has magic. A wasting sickness has taken some members. The queen is valiantly doing what she can to preserve it. Or is she? What happened to the magic, anyway?

Bryony grows up and takes a new name: Knife. She becomes the colony’s Hunter, fearlessly flying abroad to capture small animals for the colony to eat, dodging attacks by crows and foxes. She also spies on the family in the house not far away.

Her story entwines with that of Paul, the boy she encountered in the tree. What will be the result? And will the colony be saved?

What do I think?  I think this story is very well written. The characters are fully realized and believable.  Knife is a very feisty protagonist, fearless although all her peers are fearful.

The whodunit is well conceived and carried out. We wonder who broke the magic for the faery colony and why through most of the book. There are various red herrings laid before us. Finally there is an answer.

The friendship/ love story between Paul and Knife is less defined. It could be because this book is intended for middle grade, not young adult. We don’t see that obsession with each other that characterizes most love stories for teens and up. But we don’t need that either.

And the Christian foundation? It’s there–the faeries invoke the Great Gardener on occasion, but they never discuss their relationship to him, nor do they depend on him or ask him for help.  I know RJ Aderson is a Christian, so I would love to see this more developed in a sequel. I also expect the sequel to address the question of how to fix the faery colony’s magic, now that we know why it is broken.

This is a very good book, with great characters, hard to put down.  I’ll be looking forward to reading more in this series.–Phyllis Wheeler

The Wordsmith, the Kid, and the Electrolux by Clifford Leigh, a Review

wordsmith

The Wordsmith, the Kid, and the Electrolux by Clifford Leigh, a Review
Published by OakTara Publishers, 2008. 229 pages.
Genre:  Christian allegory, most suitable for teens and adults

The Wordsmith, the Kid, and the Electrolux is the story of Corey Smith, a very self-centered, self-indulgent kid who has rejected his loving parents and chooses to steal from them to feed his craving for sweets from the local ice cream truck. A sinner, like the rest of us, definitely.

Late one night, Corey awakens to hear his family’s vacuum cleaner whooshing away in the closet, all by itself.  He investigates, is drawn to open a family photo album in the attic above the closet, and finds himself in a dreamlike sequence that lasts nearly all of the rest of the book.

It’s not a fantasy story with unicorns and dragons, but an allegory where people and things take on meaning based on their parallels in real life. Corey finds himself falling headlong into another world, alongside a giant tree. He is inside the photo album, falling alongside his family tree. Finally he lands and encounters some other children, including Ben and Benjamin, twins.  Ben is the “bad” one, always suggesting the morally wrong choice, while Benjamin clearly has thought a lot about moral choices and articulates the “good” choice.

Standing alongside the family tree, they see some giant “photographs,” part of the picture album they find themselves in. In one of them, they see a kid, a young goat, being sent off into the desert carrying the sins of a nation.  That’s the Kid referred to in the title.

Another picture contains a Wordsmith who is clearly designing and creating a contraption in a shop.  A man and a woman wander into the shop. They can’t see the Wordsmith, and begin speculating about where the contraption came from. Benjamin and Corey decide to enter the room and try to tell them that the contraption was really made by the Wordsmith, and didn’t come into being by itself, and shouldn’t be worshipped–two options the adults had come up with.

So the three boys chase after the couple and tell them about the Wordsmith, to no avail. The couple takes the three boys home with them, and some adventures ensue, all very dreamlike in character.  There are some extensive philosophical discussions, focusing on why the Kid had to die for sins, and what good that did for us.

Finally we figure out what the Wordsmith, the Kid, and the Electrolux collectively are. I’ll let you guess.

So, do I like it?

A young child, listening to this, might get restless. But the content is great for teens. I certainly wish I had read this book when I was a teenager. It would have explained to me why Jesus’s death on the cross meant my sins were paid for.  That was a huge stumbling block to me at the time, for years, and this book makes it understandable and believable.

So, if you’re looking for a great story like the Narnia tales, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for some answers about the basics of the Christian faith, this is a good book.  It’s also very readable, with a central character you can identify with in his petty sins and his search for answers.–Phyllis Wheeler