Category Archives: Reviews

Foundlings by Matthew Christian Harding, a Review

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Foundlings by Matthew Christian Harding
Book 1 of the Peleg Chronicles
Zoe and Sozo Publishing (self-published), 256 pages

Genre:  Christian tall tales for kids

This is a book written for conservative Christian homeschoolers by a homeschooling dad who loves to tell cliffhanging bedtime stories.  It’s a fantasy story of sorts, with no magic. So actually I think it falls into Christian tall tales.  It would be great to read aloud.

One main character is Lord McDougal, who despite his name is no Scotsman. Others have names that sound English, French, or various to me. The main city, Hradcanny, sounds eastern European to me. So, where and when are we?

The technology in the story is basically medieval: metal swords, some gunpowder, arrows with metal tips. The monsters are very large, very hungry beasts with no magical powers. There are vicious giants, too. All in all, the humans spend a fair amount of time avoiding being eaten. So, where and when are we?

This is not Middle Earth. It’s a young earth, at a time soon after the Flood and after the Tower of Babel when humans are starting to multiply, but “dragons” (dinosaurs) are still around. Against this backdrop, Harding spins his tale of two children, the foundlings. Lord McDougal, his assistant Fergus, and a dwarf are trying to rescue the children from dragon priests in a feudal society who want to sacrifice the children.

Harding’s tale, after the slow-start first chapter, is a page-turner. The main characters flee from peril into peril. We are left with cliff-hangers while the narrative switches to another group of characters. In fact, the book itself ends this way. Now we have to wait for the next book!

The characters are well-drawn, idiosyncratic, and consistent. McDougal has a lot of similarities to Don Quixote–he’s a nobleman, with an assistant, who is ridiculously awkward, on a quest with no particular aim in mind, who unintentionally picks a fight. Others laugh at him. Meanwhile, he is earnestly honest and gallant. No windmills, though. Only giants.

Those who follow Noah’s God seem to be a persecuted minority. All the main characters are followers of Noah’s God. When they get into difficulties, they pray for help, using verses from the King James Bible. This can make things a bit stiff–a newer translation would be better in my opinion. However, I welcome the use of the Bible in this way. The Word of the Lord is living and active, and why wouldn’t the Lord’s followers in earlier times have had some kind of access to it?

I am guessing that McDougal and his family eventually end up in Scotland; Thiery and his descendants eventually end up in France; Rosencross’s descendants eventually end up in England; and so on. That would make sense of the unusual ethnic mixture of names.

Bible-believing Christians will get a bang out of this book. It re-supposes early human history in a refreshing way, and spins a bundle of intertwined yarns that are entertaining and imaginative. Its heroes depend on the Lord for help. Unlike other fantasy works, this one contains no magic, no evolution, and no humanism. Conservative homeschooling families should take a good look at it.–Phyllis Wheeler

The Last Guardian by Shane Johnson, A Partial Review

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The Last Guardian by Shane Johnson, A Partial Review
Published 2000 by Waterbrook Press, 498 pages
Genre: Christian suspense, apocalyptic literature, fantasy, rated pg-13 (by me) for violence

I can see that this is a book a lot of people are going to like. A reader suggested it, so I checked it out of the library.  (!)

The problem is that I can’t stand suspense. I’m not a Hitchcock fan, or anything like that.  So I kept putting the book down when the suspense level got too much for me. Finally I decided not to finish it.

HOWEVER, if you are a Christian suspense lover, you may well love this book. So I am going to put it on your radar screen.

The book is based on the Biblical young earth. Before the disaster that we call the Flood, it was a warm world, like a greenhouse under a pink sky which somehow held plenty of water in suspension. Dinosaurs and mammoths lived in forests of fern fronds. People were there too. Evil was overtaking them.

There were fated to be 12 guardians of a holy object, who one after the other guard it until they are able to pass it off to the next guardian.  Finally the eleventh guardian doesn’t find a successor. An unseen hand lifts the relic from his grasp before he dies at the hands of enemies.

Soon afterward, the Word of the Lord brings megadisaster on the planet, which writhes in pain, water, and mud.  Most everyone and everything dies. Creatures are entombed, fossil beds laid down. (Noah we presume is somewhere on the other side of the world, saving remants.)

Now it is close to the present day. A modern doctoral student, TG Shass, is hiking with his friend and is caught in a thunderstorm rapelling down a rock face. Somehow he disappears for three days and reappears 2000 miles away.

The ancient relic is his now, and stays with him even when he tries to leave it with some scientists to study. So he is the 12th and last guardian. Evil spirit-creatures are now stalking him.

This is where I put the book down!

Characters are well developed. The lyrical detail is woven in. Suspense is built with little foreshadowing comments. It’s masterfully written, I can see. I assume TG moves from little faith to much more faith as the book progresses.

I know the book takes TG to another world called Noron. That’s because there’s a map of Noron at the front of the book.

So, I dare you!  Check it out! Don’t be a wimp like me. And tell me if you liked it!–Phyllis Wheeler

Swords of the Six by Scott Appleton, a Review

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Swords of the Six by Scott Appleton
Book One of The Sword of the Dragon
Flaming Pen Press, 2009, 281 pages

Genre: Christian fantasy, young adult/adult (no sexy stuff)

This book is the story of six young women who are daughters of a white dragon. The dragon has mysterious creative and healing powers. A created being, he calls on a benevolent Creator for help, as do his daughters.

The protagonist is Dantress, one of the six young women. She is adventurous even as a child, and willing to risk all for those she loves.

As the story develops, she and her sisters are given a mission. They leave the blessed palace where they grew up and go into the realms dominated by evil to perform an errand. As dragons who look like humans, they have special powers.

Next, the white dragon sends the six to live in the woods on the edge of lands inhabited by humans. What happens next is a love story involving Dantress and a local hero, Ilfedo.

The tale actually sets the stage for another, larger, work featuring Ilfedo. This
will start with the next book in the series.

It takes a while to discern the rules governing this fantasy world. Apparently, the
Creator governs everything but has given plenty of supernatural powers to the white dragon. Regular humans don’t have any magical powers at all, and live in a realm dominated by evil wizards, who do.  The white dragon keeps tabs on what is happening in the humans’ realm, occasionally tearing a hole in the sky at his palace and appearing in the other realm, often just in time to rescue the good guys, but sometimes a tad too late.  There are also very evil dragons, black and green, along with the sorcerers.  It’s a pretty dark world. But because of the white dragon, not overwhelmingly so.

What did I think?

The book is certainly imaginative, with plenty of details–life in a palace
containing a tree that is habitat for fairies;  transparent ceilings that let you just
look up to see the weather. Life in Ilfedo’s woodland cabin is also pretty cool–it too
opens to the sky at times.

It’s a moral book, with treachery identified as the evil that it is. It’s also a
book about grace, with those who committed evil left given the chance to turn away from their deeds.

Characterization is solid, I found.

And so this book does what it set out to do, namely setting the stage for a larger work. Accordingly, I am left, at the end, wondering what will happen next. However, this first book lacks what I was expecting: a cohesive overarching conflict that is resolved at the end of the book.  It is really a chain of several stories, all of them needed to set the stage. So it seems more like a prequel than an opening for a series.

Nevertheless, it is a tale with a rock-solid foundation in the loving God that I know through Jesus Christ. And I am indeed waiting for the next one!–Phyllis Wheeler

Tuck by Stephen Lawhead, a Review

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Tuck by Stephen R. Lawhead
Book Three of the King Raven Trilogy
Published by Thomas Nelson, 2009, 443 pages
Genre: Historic legend, Christian, young adult (high action, no sexy stuff)

Is this a fantasy book? Not really. There is only one character who has attributes that are truly larger than life: the Banfaith seer, Angharad. She appears to be several hundred years old, a Celtic seer in the tradition of Merlin, but of course her age isn’t pinned down, so who knows?

Are Arthurian legends fantasy?  This book falls in the Arthurian vein, in that it is speculating about the possible history behind a legend.

Tuck is the final book of the King Raven trilogy, which is a long, wild yarn spun to answer the question, who might Robin Hood have been? Apparently the traditional location, Sherwood Forest, isn’t very conducive to a good semi-historical tale, at least as far as Lawhead is concerned.  Now Lawhead, who has spent much of his career exploring Celtic culture and myth, is entertaining us by bringing his broad knowledge of the Cymry (Welsh) to the Robin Hood legend.

What if Robin Hood and his longbowmen were really Welsh resistance fighters, seeking to counter the heavy hand of William the Conqueror’s son William Rufus?  Lawhead bases his three-volume tale on this supposition.

The first book, Hood, stands mostly in the point of view of Bran, the Robin Hood character. (Rhi Bran y Hud is what he is eventually called by his countrymen.) The second book, Scarlet, revolves around the point of view of Will Scarlet, who joins the outlaw band living in the ancient woods of the March, the eastern borderland of Wales. And the third, Tuck, contains much from the point of view of Father Aethelfrith, whom the legend calls Friar Tuck.

There are other familiar characters from the legend too: maid Marian becomes Merian, Bran’s headstrong beloved. Little John becomes Iwan. The evil sheriff of Nottingham becomes the ruthless Norman Sheriff de Glanville. And, like in the legend, the outlaw band members are adept at guerilla tactics, shooting the longbow, repeatedly besting their adversaries. Those adversaries come after them in far larger numbers as knights on horseback, carrying sword and spear. They nearly always lose. But the band of outlaws living in the woods suffers from hunger and privation, so they are not winning, either.

As the story progresses, Bran becomes more and more adept at fooling others–he is a trickster who masters the art of illusion. He’s using it to further his quest to gain his rightful throne as a petty Welsh king, and to aid his suffering countrymen where he can. Bran also leans heavily on his spiritual advisor, Angharad, and consistently makes decisions based on mercy rather than vengeance. It is Biblical thinking we hear from Angharad and Bran.

Meanwhile, William Rufus, Baron Neufmarche, and other Normans have been ruthlessly enforcing their domination and taxation on the poor citizens of Britain and parts of Wales.  Their characters in previous books seem uniformly villainous and bullying. Double-crossing is the way they operate.

Will the band of outlaws succeed in convincing the Norman king that he should live up to his previous agreement and install Bran as his vassal?  Will a daring excapade in the north of Wales convince Bran’s kinsmen to come to his aid? Read it to find out!

And what do I think?

It’s a great and riveting tale.  Not only did the fantasy lovers in my household want to read it, but the historical fiction lovers too. What a gas, to reimagine Robin Hood in this totally different way.

However, the way that the plot resolves doesn’t seem believable to me. In particular two characters, the impetuous Merian and the cold William Rufus, act in a manner that seems out of character.  Another character, Baron Neufmarche, also does some surprising things, but his change of heart is developed enough to be believable.

Also, Bran’s character in this book seems less real than in the previous books. He is just too successful at duping the enemy Normans, and too good at turning the other cheek. It’s as if he’s stepping into the realm of legend although he is still alive.

These reservations didn’t detract much, though.  I heartily enjoyed reading this trilogy. It’s so good and satisfying to me to read a great tale with a solid Biblical worldview as its foundation.  And who knows? Maybe Robin Hood really was a Welshman. Maybe Lawhead is onto something. But I guess we’ll never know.–Phyllis Wheeler

Take a look at what others on the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy blog tour are saying about this book in the next three days:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Terri Main
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Epic Rat
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Stephen Lawhead’s Web site

The Legend of the Firefish by Polivka, a Review

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The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka, a review

Book One of the Trophy Chase Trilogy

Published 2007 by Harvest House Publishers, 347 pages

Genre: Christian fantasy/high seas adventure, young adult/adult  (Protagonists are in early adulthood. But teens would certainly enjoy it.)

This is a fantasy book in that it is set in an invented place, Nearing Vast. The people groups are invented, and so on. But this is a world that is somehow also a part of ours; Jesus of Nazareth is present, and so is his church. The God of heaven and earth responds to prayers.  “Coincidences” happen that are too strange to be coincidences.

Packer Throme is the son of a simple fisherman. Because of a simple act of kindness when he was a child (keeping another child from dying of exposure), he is given the gift of an education–the child he saved turned out to be the crown prince.

With his education, Packer tries seminary but gets thrown out after an altercation of some kind.  Next he studies with the greatest swordsmaster of Nearing Vast.

He returns to his fishing village, where the young Panna Seline waits for him.  But he isn’t planning to stay. He simply wants help stowing away on a pirate ship that has paused nearby.

You see, he has heard that this particular pirate ship, the Trophy Chase, isn’t pirating any more. Instead, it’s hunting the Firefish, a sea dragon of legend whose meat has great value.  Throme wants to learn the secrets of hunting firefish and bring them to his village, so the fisherman can do more than eek out a living.

Throme makes it onto the pirate ship but manages to make an enemy out of Talon, a master swordswoman who is the ship’s security officer. The captain asks Talon to leave the ship, but not before she has tortured Packer and learned about his village and about Panna.  She heads for shore, murder in her heart.

Does she succeed in killing everyone in the village, including Panna? I’ll tell you a bit more: Panna sets out on an adventure trying to follow Packer, and her path meets Talon’s.

Meanwhile, out at sea, the Trophy Chase heads into deadly peril in pursuit of the firefish.  Will the ship return?

I really like this book. There’s plenty of action. Characters are memorable, not sterotyped. The lore about sailing a tall ship seems genuine. The fantasy parts of the story, especially about the habits of the firefish, are well-woven. There’s no magic, but there certainly is a fantastic beast: the firefish.  Polivka lets us get right inside its head.  In fact, he does a fair amount of hopping around with his point of view, but it is well handled; I didn’t find it confusing.

The main characters have flaws like the rest of us, but they lean on the Lord as the story unfolds and pray for help, and God answers. The ruffian who appears to be a bad guy at the beginning comes around in the end. In fact, Polivka makes it clear that there is hope for bad guys, too. Non-Christians who have reviewed this book have not found it preachy or heavy-handed, and that’s a good thing, too.

In short, this is a great book. Don’t miss it.  And if you live in St. Louis, you may be able to check it out from the Webster Groves Public Library.  I asked the librarians to buy more Christian fantasy fiction, and they bought this one for us. — Phyllis Wheeler

PS:  I have now read the other two books in the Trophy Case Trilogy, found them to be wonderful as well.  The most amazing thing about these books is that I am totally unable to predict where the story is going to go.  Polivka has a very original mind!  And is a great storyteller.  So read them and be uplifted.-PW, 6/18/2009

Sons of God by Rebecca Ellen Kurtz, a Review

Sons of God by Rebecca Ellen Kurtz, a Review

Self-published by Maximilian Press Publishers, 2007, 209 pages.

Genre: Christian horror.  Think of Twilight, the Mummy movies or Indiana Jones, full of paranormal activity. But this one has a Biblical worldview. Also, it’s not for kids.

This novel doesn’t really fit with others I have reviewed.  It’s not fantasy or science fiction.  In fact, it’s at heart a romance. It describes plenty of violence, so much that I am glad it’s not a movie.

It does fit in with some others I have reviewed in that it is self-published and could use some editing. Kurtz is an amateur archeologist, not a professional writer. Occasionally she “tells” rather than “shows” action–mostly in these gory situations where I didn’t want to hear the details anyway. She also jumps around with her point of view from one character to another in an unsettling way, something a good editor would have changed. Dialogue is occasionally clunky and often too modern.

However, given the fact that the publishing industry pretty much shuts out unknown authors in this genre, I am often willing to check out self-published novels and look past the rough edges.

What I found was a wild tale of the paranormal: demons and immortal half-angels (some with vampire characteristics) sharing the earth with the rest of us, who are mostly unaware of them.

The protagonist of the book, Rachaev, is an immortal Nephilim (a halfbreed race, offspring of fallen angels and humans who mated at the dawn of time). Although her parents had chosen the evil path, she has chosen to follow Elohim (God).  She is in a spiritually dry spell, lasting 2,500 years. At first she blames God, but she eventually figures out isn’t God’s fault.

There’s a love interest for Rachaev; after all this time she finally has found a man who interests her. However, it is forbidden for her to wed a human.  How is this resolved? And how is she able to finally do what Elohim has commanded her to do (kill her evil, bloodthirsty mother, Ishtar)?

This book is for adults, because of the violence and the sexual tension (no sex scenes — the emphasis for Raechev is purity).  If it were a movie, it would probably be rated somewhere between PG-13 and R.

The book is not only a story. It also contains translations of ancient manuscripts including the Bible, interpreting them to show that Nephilim, half-angel, half-human, are talked about in a variety of texts from around the world.  I am not sure what to make of this. Is she arguing that Nephilim really exist? If so, this argument is muddying the waters–what she is selling is a tale, not a history.

It’s a gripping story, hard to put down once you get into it. The best thing about it is its rock-solid affirmation of the existence of God and his control of all things, and of his mercy–in providing eventual happiness for Raechev despite her long disobedience.–Phyllis Wheeler

Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka, a Review

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Blaggard’s Moon

A Prequel to the Trophy Chase Trilogy
by George Bryan Polivka
Published by Harvest House Publishers, 2009, 373 pages.

Worldview: Moral universe, a God who changes people when they pray.

This book consists of two yarns that converge at the end of the book. One is the tale of a pirate, Smith Delaney, who is sentenced by some primitive jungle-dwellers to die a gruesome death. He meditates on his life in the meantime.

The other tale is about Damrick Fellows, told previously by a pirate comrade of Delaney’s. Delaney remembers Damrick’s tale, in his comrade’s words, as Delaney sits on a post in the middle of a pond full of piranhas and gruesome flesh-eating sea monkeys, waiting for sunset and the end of his life.

Both tales take place in a fantasy world called Nearing Vast, where the law-abiding citizens are in the grip of ruthless pirates.  The shipping companies pay off the pirates, and the pirates pay off the Navy, which doesn’t enforce the law.

Into this situation comes Damrick Fellows, a former seaman who dares to challenge the pirates.  Damrick’s tale tells his story and that of Jenta, the woman Damrick loves.

The stories intersect, causing the incident that hands Delaney his death sentence. While sitting on the post in the pond, Delaney ponders and rejects his bad deeds and doesn’t regret the good deed that landed him on the post: saving the life of a tiny girl, daughter of Damrick and Jenta.

The book contains some very memorable and finely drawn characters: not only Damrick and Jenta, but the king of the pirates, Conch Imbry.  Their interactions form a tale of heroic deeds, not the least of which is Delaney’s decision to save the girl.

The book is lyrically written, bringing a song to my heart as I read parts of it. However, there is also plenty of violence in the book, briefly described.  While not for younger children, it’s appropriate for teens–there are no sex scenes in it. Personally I am not fond of reading about violence though.

The Christian faith is evident–there are priests and crosses.  At least one character, a drunk, begins to pray and is changed. Delaney’s heart too changes as he sits on the post and reviews his life.  My heart yearns for more obvious response from God in the tale, though.

Characters in this book are often faced with apparently morally ambiguous situations and must make a decision. Delaney makes wrong choices at first, and so do some of the other characters, including Damrick, whose motivations in attacking pirates originally seem questionable. But many of the wrong-choosers eventually realize the error of their ways and change.

This book is really about the complexities of the human heart, and how it is capable of changing for the better. It has a nice solid moral groundwork, memorable characters, and a literary flair.  For lovers of action, this is a great book.

Check out what others on the CSFF blog tour are writing on this topic:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Seabird by Sherry Thompson, a review

Seabird by Sherry Thompson, a review
Book One of the Narentan Tumults
Published in 2007 by Gryphonwood Press, 349 pages
Worldview: Christian

At the beginning of this young-adult novel, Cara Marshall, age 17, is beginning a beach vacation with her family. She buys a silver seabird necklace. When she puts it on, she is suddenly transported to another world, Narenta, a place like our world and yet not like it.

The Narentans make it clear they expect great things from her. They tell her she has a perilous task to do, as an Outworlder, to help them.  But Cara isn’t attached to Narenta and sees no reason to help the people there. She wants no part of the quest they would impose on her. She demands to go home, but finds no way to leave. A new twist on Oz!

She flees and finds she is placing herself and others in deadly peril, as evil sorcerers seek to kill her. She repents and decides to help the Narentans, but not before a kindly couple is dead because of her detour.

Cara is rescued by two enchanters, who do “good” magic and are followers of Alphesis (Jesus), and two seabirds who are sentient beings on Narenta, larger than eagles and full of warmth and good humor. Together, their path leads to a monastery island where Cara meets Alphesis and learns more of her task. She gradually learns to trust Alphesis and becomes braver.

Meanwhile, the evil sorcerers are declaring war on the good Narentans. Cara’s quest, if it succeeds, will allow the good Narentans to win. If it fails, they will lose.

Does she succeed? And does Alphesis allow her to return to our world?

I really enjoyed this book. Sherry Thompson excels at character development.  She gets inside Cara’s self-centered head very well, and also shows her gradual turnaround.  Other characters are shown in consistent detail as well. Cara must learn to trust that Alphesis will tell her what her next step is at the right moment. So this book does model the Christian walk well.

The world Thompson creates is one where good and evil may be easier to spot than in our world. Alphesis is front-and-center: there is no one who thinks he doesn’t exist.  His action in history is obvious, destroying a sorcerer’s castle and locking the sorcerers up for millennia.  We glimpse Alphesis’ action in history in snatches here and there, Tolkien-style.

But there are plenty of illusions as well, created by the evil sorcerers and by the good enchanters. There are imaginative details, such as woods full of copper-colored leaves, not green leaves, and “serpent-hawks.”

A drawback: a number of the characters have names starting with HA.  Halprin, Harone, Hathel.  I had a little trouble keeping them straight, even though they are very different characters. The two seabirds also have similar names, which also was a stumbling block for me.  In addition, the opening scene (which gets the plot rolling) is disconnected from what follows immediately, and so I forgot it completely until I went back to look over the book after I had finished.

Because the protagonist is a typical 17-year-old girl who is eventually enabled to do brave things, I expect girls will like this book. There is also a minor love-interest, which may widen the appeal. The book also has plenty of action. Sherry Thompson is working on a sequel, Earthbow. I’ll be looking forward to reading it.–Phyllis Wheeler

Thinking of buying this book? You can help support this blog by buying it through me.

Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow, a Review

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Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow by Christopher and Allan Miller, a review
Book 1 of the Codebearers Series

Published by Warner Press, 2008, 366 pages.

Worldview: Christian

In this middle-grade Christian fantasy novel, Hunter Brown keeps making bad choices. Nevertheless, he finds redemption.

The book starts off with a prank that goes bad.  Soon Hunter finds himself visiting a mysterious bookshop with an odd little man as the proprietor. He is given a book. The book soon leads Hunter and his friend Stretch into another world, Solandria.

Solandria is connected to our world, which Solandrians call the Veil. Both worlds are ruled by the Shadow. In our world, the Veil, people aren’t aware that the Shadow rules. They are fooled by appearances.

However, the Book showed the truth about us, our dark and evil eyes, to Hunter and continues to guide him. In Solandria, it’s obvious who the evil folks are. In fact, Hunter seems to have some of their evil characteristics. He certainly makes some choices that reflect that. But friendly folk, the Codebearers, teach Hunter how to use a special force-sword, activated by speaking words from the Book. They send him to look for Aviad, the son of the Author–Author of life and of the Book.

After many trials, Hunter finds Aviad. It turns out that he is the bookseller, the odd-looking bookstore owner–a man with short legs and too many cats. Now Hunter must seek to undo the curse that has fallen on Solandria. Aviad has a role in lifting the curse as well.

This book has good characterization, with consistent, well-drawn characters. It has plenty of action, and keeps you turning the pages, that’s for sure. It does a good job of portraying the Christian walk. Clearly the swords used are the swords of the Spirit, activated by the Word of God. This book is an allegory in many ways, but it is also a page-turner.

Hunter learns to ask Aviad for help, after first going his own way and heading for disaster. When he finally calls for help, he receives it. Through most of the book, Hunter thinks he is OK, when he really is under the curse.  In the end, when he submits to the Author, the curse is lifted for him, and he becomes a Codebearer like his friends. And so it does describe the path to Christ pretty well.

I do have a minor reservation about this book. I am uncomfortable with the idea of portraying Jesus as an odd-looking man with short legs, wispy hair, and so on. This is no Aslan. But Isaiah did describe Jesus as unremarkable in appearance, so this Jesus could be more Biblical than Lewis’ Aslan.

In short, this is a great book for your middle-grade boys to read. They will like it, and they’ll learn something about the road to Jesus from it. –Phyllis Wheeler

Tomorrow: an interview with the authors!

If you want to buy this book, you can help defray expenses of operating this blog by ordering here:

Check out others on the blog tour and what they have to say:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Wade Ogletree
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Flashpoint by Frank Creed, a Review

Flashpoint by Frank Creed

Book One of The Underground, published by The Writer’s Cafe Press 2007, 190 pages.

Worldview: Christian

At the beginning of this book, a loving father tells his two kids to jump from his slowly moving car, sending them to hide in the support beams of a highway overpass. Then he drives home to be arrested for a terrorist crime–being a Christian.

In Frank Creed’s grim Chicago of AD 2036, America has succumbed to control by the One State, based in Belgium. Technology allows the government to monitor everyone’s whereabouts, based on numerous video cameras , and on ID chips embedded in people’s left hands and in their cars. Chicago is barely recognizeable, divided into Wards. What were once highway tollbooths have now become checkpoints for crossing from one Ward to another. The One State version of Nazism scapegoats the Christians.  Christians when found are arrested and sent to “rehab” where their DNA is rearranged and they forget who they really are.

Against this backdrop, the two kids, aged 16 and 20, are rescued from the highway overpass by the Christian underground, which they join. They are spiritually and physically “re-formed” with super-tech powers. They take new names: Calamity Kid and his younger sister e-girl. The two dive into a breathlessly fast-paced set of adventures, seeking first to aid some widows and orphans, and then setting out to rescue their family members from rehab. Calamity’s now a Sandman–an elite fighter who doesn’t kill his foes, but instead puts them to sleep. E-girl aids him as a “hacker” on the Internet.

Creed’s Christian worldview is front and center. Calamity and his trainers do their best to live out their faith. Calamity learns to trust the Lord, and gets plenty of direction from Bible verses that the Holy Spirit uses to guide him. I really like that about this book.

What I don’t like is the lingo. This book is a story told by Calamity Kid. He uses plenty of 21st-century slang, some of which I had trouble following. Also, the overall effect is rather cheeky, which doesn’t fit his humble-servant intentions.

It’s a well-written tale, full of action that draws you right in and keeps you turning the pages. It’s a great Christian witness to the gamer generation: its hero, with plenty of techno-superpowers, still must depend on the Lord for any measure of success.–Phyllis Wheeler

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