Tag Archives: Christian book review

Haunt of Jackals by Eric Wilson, a partial review

jackals

CSFF Blog Tour: Haunt of Jackals by Eric Wilson Published 2009 by Thomas
Nelson, 401 pages. Second in the Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy.
Genre: Christian suspense/horror vampire tale
I’d rate it PG-13 if not R.

I did not intend to review this book for the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog tour
because suspense stories are too nerve-wracking for me. I really don’t enjoy them.

However, by some oversight the publisher sent me a book. Not wanting to waste a good
book, I decided to start reading it.  Sure enough, the suspense on about page 90 just was too much for me. But I can report to you what I found up to that point.

Wilson has done a great job of constructing a tale with a Christian worldview.  His complex characters ring true. The action is virtually non-stop, providing a wonderful evening for adrenaline junkies unlike myself. Plus there’s the horror dimension, with the demonic undead vampires which have this uncanny ability to temporarily abandon their host bodies and take up residence in an animal. So the main characters never know if the next blackbird is a spying enemy or not.  Talk about nerve-wracking!

The narrative, at least in the first part of the book, revolves around two lead characters, Cal and Gina. The point of view and narrative follows Cal for a while, then Gina. This seems to work well for this tale. Cal is one of those individuals who rose from the dead when Jesus rose from the grave.  These individuals were granted immortality and given a task, to protect humanity. They recruit mortal apprentices to help them.

As the second in a trilogy, this book must have been a challenge to write in such a way
that a new reader like myself could understand what came before. I am happy to report that the explanation at the beginning of the book was adequate to the challenge, and I was able to step into the story without a hitch.

At page 90 I leave the book wondering whether the young apprentice Dov survives. I expect Gina to eventually find out that Cal is her father, and that she is half immortal.  I wonder whether this news will cause her to accept the predicament she is in and become a follower of the Almighty God, rather than a modern nay-sayer.  I wonder whether the Lord will intervene to rein in these all-too-powerful vampire enemies, who seem likely to overcome the good guys.  I am curious about the fact that Gina has a twin brother who is not mentioned other than to say he exists. Perhaps he shows up later in this book, or in the final book.

It’s no wonder that Eric Wilson is an NYT best-selling author. He knows what he is doing.

For more info:

Eric Wilson’s Web site –http://www.wilsonwriter.com/
The Undead Trilogy Web site  – http://www.jerusalemsundead.com/

Check out other blogs on the blog tour. Since I don’t have an updated list yet, these are the blogs that were listed for the last tour. It’s probably about the same.

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Rachel Briard
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Crista Richey
Cheryl Russell
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
KM Wilsher

Day 2- CSFF Blog Tour, The Vanishing Sculptor

I’m still talking about Donita K. Paul’s book, The Vanishing Sculptor, as Day 2 of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. This blog tour has really grown in the year or so that I’ve been on it. It has taken me a while to visit all the 35 blogs listed and check out what others are saying.

Nearly everyone really enjoyed the book. It has an unusual feature for fantasy these days: it’s upbeat. Rachel Starr Thomson summarized it nicely:

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. In a genre which often relies on heavy themes and gathering darkness, that can’t be said about every book. It’s entirely true of this one.”

It’s also got some great offbeat characters in it, particularly the giant parrot, many agreed.

Mrs. Paul has granted interviews in some cases. I emailed her some interview questions Sept. 12, and never got a reply, so I am guessing that the good old email system isn’t working too great as usual.  In case she stops by this blog, here are the questions; maybe she could answer them in the comments.

Here they are:

1. Is The Vanishing Sculptor the beginning of another series?

2. Do paladins (emissaries of God) live 1000 years?

3. The market is in flux now, with Internet publishing gaining a foothold, and publishers cutting back on selections by unknown writers. Do you have advice for writers who have a Christian fantasy story they’d like to publish?

Here are the other blogs on the tour. I put a “+” next to the blogs that had a post on this topic when I looked for one.

Donita Paul’s blog: http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com/

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
+ Rachel Briard
Karri Compton
+ Amy Cruson
+ Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
+ Jeff Draper
April Erwin
+ Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
+ Julie
Carol Keen
+ Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
+ Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
Nissa
+ John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Crista Richey
Cheryl Russell
+ Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
+ Rachel Starr Thomson
+ Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
+ Fred Warren
+ Dona Watson
+ Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
+ KM Wilsher

The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul, a Review

sculptor

The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul, also called The Dragons of Chiril, a review
Published by Waterbrook Press, 2009, 398 pages.
Genre:  Christian fantasy, suitable for middle grade and up

It’s a medieval-style world, where friendly wizards use magic, technology has advanced as far as use of swords, and the animal kingdom includes huge sentient parrots as well as dragons, large and small, who communicate telepathically.

A young woman,Tipper, lives a sheltered life with her mother in an elegant house that has seen better days on the edge of a forest.  Her artist  father mysteriously vanished 15 years before. Her mother is pleasantly out to lunch, talking a lot of nonsense most of the time. Among other strange things, the mother claims that she sees Tipper’s father in the evenings.

When her mother goes on a trip, Tipper sees her father in the evenings too. It turns out he is in quite a fix, appearing but then vanishing into thin air after only a few minutes.  It all has something to do with a “gateway” his wizard friend across the world in Amara rigged up in the closet of her parents’ bedroom.

The gateway is coming apart, threatening the fabric of the world. Tipper and her father, the wizard friend, a librarian, and a giant parrot set out on a quest to find the keys to putting it back together. Later on we find out that there are also some bad guys who want to take over the kingdom using the gateway.

What do I think?

Donita K. Paul wrote another successful series, the DragonKeeper Chronicles, which I have not read. The DragonKeeper stories are set in the same world as the characters in The Vanishing Sculptor, but they are separated by time and place. So to someone familiar with Paul’s work, the background and settings must seem familiar, though the characters aren’t.

For me, barging into this world clueless, it was difficult to sort out the seven races. Paul refers to these races by name–emerlindian, tumanhofer, etc., without explaining that they are races.  After several chapters of puzzlement I looked up the strange words in the glossary, which I was glad to find.

Other than that, I found a well-crafted story. Tipper’s teenage character is self-centered in a very realistic way.  Her bossy guardian, the large parrot, is also a fully-drawn self-important kind of guy.  Only the wizard from Amara seems two-dimensional through most of the story, continually dropping lizards from his clothing with little variation. However, I understand he is a character in the other series, and so is probably more developed there.

Christian underpinnings for this story are definitely there. A loving deity is watching over the characters, sending an emissary to intervene. Paul does a great job of touching the heart of the matter in a lovely and satisfying way.  So, I heartily recommend this book for a variety of ages.  -Phyllis Wheeler

This review is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour for this month. Read reviews by others of this book at these links:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Rachel Briard
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
Nissa
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Crista Richey
Cheryl Russell
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
KM Wilsher

The Victor by Marlayne Giron, a Review

victor

The Victor: A Tale of Betrayal, Love and Sacrifice
by Marlayne Giron
Published by Tate Publishing, 2009, 274 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy/romance

This book starts with the rebellion of the faithless steward Lucius against the good King Eloth, in the medieval-style kingdom of Ellioth.  When the rebellion is thwarted, Eloth mercifully does not execute Lucius, but banishes him and his men instead.

What Lucius wanted was Eloth’s sword of power, scheming that with the sword, he could exert vast authority.  The person who stands to inherit the sword, Prince Joshua, is only a young boy.

Young Joshua is bethrothed to an eight-year-old step relative, Llyonesse. At this point the point of view shifts to these young people, and the story moves to a colony that Eloth sets up across the sea, for Joshua to rule when he is older. In the meantime, Llyonesse’s father Ardon serves as steward.Eloth gives Ardon the sword, for now.

In the colony, industrious settlers work hard. But after a while evil Lucius shows up. Soon Ardon and his wife are dead, and Llyonesse is imprisoned in the castle. Lucius rules the colony with complete evil intent. The sword has buried itself in a stone; no one can touch it and live.

Llyonesse is lonely. She knows evil Lucius plans to marry her when she is old enough, in order to gain rightful possession of the sword–which will fry anyone who isn’t of the royal line. As Eloth’s step grand-daughter, Llyonesse is of the royal line, more or less.

But what of Joshua? Time goes by and the young people mature. Joshua seeks to take back his colony and his sword. Does Lucius marry the lovely young woman in his castle?  You’ll have to read the book to find out more!

What do I think?

I had a bit of difficulty getting into this story, because there isn’t a character
to identify with for a while–Joshua and Llyonesse are not at the center of the action
at first.

But once over that hump, I enjoyed the book.  It’s a romance, definitely, and will
appeal to female readers more than male, I expect.  I found a few copy-editing errors,
not enough to detract. The characters are idealized–the bad guy is very very bad, and the good guys are very very good and good-looking too.  However, the plot is more complex than that. One of the “good” characters falls to temptation, and another falls seeking to please his wife.

There are underlying Biblical themes brought out by footnotes linking to Bible passages.
The book contains plenty of actual Bible quotes, worked into the story line.  I like this; I
am happy to read the Bible and see it applied.  So the work provides a very satisfying read for me, a Christian.–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

Cry for the Moon by William Woodall, a Review

moon

Cry for the Moon by William Woodall, a Review
Published by Jeremiah Press (self-published), 2009, 235 pages.
Genre:  Middle-grade Christian horror (mild)

The protagonist of this book is 12-year-old Zach.  He and his younger sister live with their parents and a grandmother in woods in East Tennessee.  Zach and the sister are just regular kids, but the adults in the family are werewolves. What are werewolves?  They are people who get weird on the full moon, growing claws and hunting game in a very beast-like fashion. But still people.  How do they get to be werewolves? They accept a curse by going through a ceremony during the Harvest moon and then making a kill on the next full moon.

Somehow Zach doesn’t like any of this.  His family is setting him up to be a werewolf too: his grandmother does the Harvest Moon ceremony on him (after making him drowsy). All he has to do is go on a hunt on the following full moon with them, and … well, he will have none of it.

He escapes and flees to find his uncle Justin, who lives in Texas and whom he has never met. He tells the story in the first person, and we get to know him as a likable kid. His flight is an adventure that takes up most of the book–he seeks to avoid detection as a runaway, and so rakes yards and does odd jobs to earn bus money and money for food. It’s a tough life, being homeless. Eventually, he gets to Uncle Justin. When he finds Uncle Justin, how is he received? I won’t spoil the story for you. But I’ll tell you that Justin turns out to be a Christian.

What do I think? This book opens with a pretty disgusting portrayal of the grandmother-as-werewolf taking apart a rabbit.  I think that’s a put-off.  But since it’s about werewolves and all, maybe not too much. Hey, they’re evil, right?

The book lacks a constant antagonist. A really good story usually has an antagonist which provides difficulties and conflicts all the way to the end. This story has the werewolves as antagonists briefly, and then the tale becomes the quest for Justin.

From a Christian perspective, what I wonder about is the apparent inherent goodness of Zach. He is tempted to steal something, a map, but doesn’t do it.  Stealing to eat would be a mighty temptation to someone with hardly any money, just enough to buy some junk cupcakes for his dinner.  Eventually, when he gets to Justin’s empty house, he checks out the place and even finds where Justin keeps a spare $400, but he doesn’t even seem tempted to take it.

So, while it’s a nice story of the redemption of Zach from an evil family, it might have been more realistic if he had also been obviously redeemed from his inherently evil self (as all Christians are). Also missing from this story is the usual suspense and fright associated with the horror genre. No big loss as far as I am concerned!

Aside from the opening, I enjoyed reading the book. We get to know and like Zach, who has a unique voice.–Phyllis Wheeler

Foundlings by Matthew Christian Harding, a Review

foundlings

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

guardian

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

swordsofsix

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