Tag Archives: Christian fantasy

Blood of Kings: From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson, a review

From Darkness Won, Blood of Kings Book 3 of 3, by Jill Williamson
Published 2011 by Marcher Lord Press, 661 pages

To Darkness Fled, Blood of Kings Book 2 of 3, by Jill Williamson
Published 2010 by Marcher Lord Press, 680 pages

By Darkness Hid, Blood of Kings Book 1 of 3, by Jill Williamson
Published 2009 by Marcher Lord Press, 490 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, young adult and adult

The third and final book in the Blood of Kings series wraps up the many strands in this sprawling tale. The first book in the series, Christy Award winner By Darkness Hid, introduced us to the main characters, Achan and Vrell. Achan lives in a society that seriously mistreats its orphans, calling them “strays.” But Achan at age 16 isn’t just any stray. He discovers he has an amazing gift–bloodvoicing, the ability to speak to others using only his mind. His gift is so vast that others who have the gift are in awe.

Vrell is a young noblewoman fleeing a detested suitor dressed as a boy. She too has this bloodvoicing gift, which seems to run in some of the noble families only. She gets herself into all kinds of scrapes and eventually meets and helps Achan.

The powers controlling the realm of Er’Rets are evil sorcerers. The king was murdered a while back and his infant son lost. Pretenders are running most of the kingdom. But there’s a remnant of good guys who look for the return of the rightful king. And eventually they find him. He’s Achan, the lost son, switched at age 3 with another child.

Can they put him on the throne? The forces of evil seem too powerful. In fact, half the kingdom lies in total inky darkness, like the deepest night. And the darkness is spreading. Lord Nathak is clearly one of the bad guys, but he seems conflicted. He knowingly sheltered the rightful king as a child in his stronghold but allowed the boy to be severely mistreated.

Why is Nathak’s face half withered? And will Arman, the Lord of Hosts, rescue the kingdom from darkness and restore the rightful heir? What is Vrell’s role in all this? Achan, when he figures out she’s a girl, falls in love with her. Does she love him? And in the war, should she sit aside as a noblewoman, or take up her masquerade as a boy and fight?

The tale winds across three fat books, all of them a delight to read. Williamson draws the reader right into a character’s head and emotions in a very compelling way, and convincingly describes the world she has created. I can’t recommend this series enough. It’s my favorite, of all the tales I have read since starting the Christian Fantasy Review three years ago.

See my review of By Darkness Hid: http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2010/05/17/by-darkness-hid-by-jill-williamson-a-review/

The Story in the Stars by Yvonne Anderson, a review

The Story in the Stars, Gateway to Gannah #1, by Yvonne Anderson
Published 2011 by Risen Books (D&D Books, LLC)
Genre: Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy, suitable for teens and adults

Dassa nears the end of the challenges required for becoming an elite warrior, a Nasi. She’s been out in the woods fasting by herself, traveling impossible distances and fending off deadly wild animals, for a couple of weeks. Now it’s time to finish the quest. She drops by her deserted home, makes preparations, and heads for the capital city and her father, the king of the planet Gannah. But what she finds when she gets there more than horrifies her.

A virulent plague has struck in her absence. Soon she is the only living human on Gannah. She gets sick too.

Dr. Pik answers her interplanetary distress call, arriving two weeks later to save her from the virus. Problem is, this is the last place he wants to be. His planet, Karkar, had been devastated by Gannah long before. He’d like to see every last Gannahan dead, including Dassa.

Debut author Yvonne Anderson pulls a great story from this conflict, full of unexpected twists and turns. Her characters show us their emotions and draw us right into the tightly plotted tale. There’s a strong underlying faith message. It’s not at all a typical sci-fi story, which might emphasize the techno gee-whiz stuff. Instead, this story revolves around its characters.

What do I like most about this book? The character of Dr. Pik. He is amazingly different from the earnest, emotional Dassa. He’s funny-looking, tall and thin with hair like straw, wearing makeup according to the custom of his people. His response to adversity? Complaining. His attitude toward others? Superiority. Heck, he can’t even smile–he doesn’t have the facial muscles. Instead, he and others from Karkar twiddle their ears to express emotion. So, how is that endearing? Read the book and find out! This book is first in a series, and I’m very interested in reading the rest.

Find out more at Yvonne Anderson’s blog.

Read my reviews of this series:

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Book 4

The Ale Boy’s Feast by Jeffrey Overstreet, a review

The Ale Boy’s Feast by Jeffrey Overstreet
Book Four of The Auralia Thread
Published 2011 by Waterbrook, 375 pages
Genre: Fantasy with underlying Christian worldview

The Ale Boy’s Feast caps off a four-book series starting with Auralia’s Colors, a finalist for a Christy award. In the set of tales, residents of The Expanse struggle with a spreading curse of terror and evil. In this world, certain bloodlines confer special powers: sculpting stone, walking through fire, charming with music, communicating with animals. But only one person has the gift to weave colors to bring hope and healing to dark places. That person is Auralia, who seemed to die at the end of the first book, but who returns to life and the struggle in the third and fourth, not remembering at first who she is.

At the opening of The Ale Boy’s Feast, the king of House Abascar, Cal-Raven, is missing. The homeless people of House Abascar have been sheltered in House Bel Amica, another of the four houses of The Expanse. But Bel Amica has mighty struggles of its own, and it’s time to leave.

A group of Abascar people set out northward following Cal-Raven’s dream, seeking a mythic city on the other side of the Forbidding Wall that borders The Expanse. They don’t know whether they can find the city, whether they unlock its gates, or whether it would be a good city for them. But they have no place else to go.

Meanwhile, the Ale Boy, Auralia’s young friend, leads a band of survivors northward from the ruins of a third House along an underground river, away from the land of their slavery and pain.

And the missing king struggles with despondency. Will he return to his people? Will they make it on their terrifying journey through the deadly woods? And, most of all, can the curse be identified and stopped?

What do I think?

This series is amazingly rich in many ways. The characters are unforgettable, the plots intricately fashioned and woven together.

Overstreet’s style is a bit unusual. For example, he gives the native animals and plants odd names alongside sketchy descriptions. This technique puts the reader’s imagination into overdrive constructing possibilities. Meanwhile, most of what each viewpoint character is thinking comes out through dialog, not through reporting thoughts. The overall effect may be somewhat like reading a movie script, with the reader’s mind supplying visuals based on cues rather than full description. Some readers may not like this style, but I loved it.

Is it a Christian work? Yes and no. There isn’t any “Jesus” figure in it, but there is intelligence and mercy at the heart of the world Overstreet has made. The worldview will be familiar to Christians, yet not alien to nonChristians. This book can sit on the fantasy shelf at any bookstore and be enjoyed by anyone.

I emailed Overstreet and asked about what I thought seemed a dangling plot thread. Here is his response:

One of the recurring themes throughout this series has been: Are people open to mystery? Are we ready to live with uncertainty, and to hold our understandings loosely, ready to expand them when our vision is increased? Christ was fond of saying, “You have heard it said _________, but I say to you _________.” And so he makes all things new, constantly humbling us and revealing a bigger picture of the truth. Anybody who pursues the truth will experience this.

So I felt like it was appropriate to leave some things unknown, even as the author, so that people keep reading and rereading. They’ll find that some of the “loose threads” at the end are actually answered earlier in the series… the answers preceding the questions, and so fleetingly that they might never get noticed. Others remain open for us to think about. Many of my favorite stories and poems work that way.

Overstreet is a master fantasy writer. I highly recommend this series and this book. Don’t miss them!

He answered three questions from me in a video. Here’s the link.

My review of the first book:

http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2010/04/26/auralias-colors-by-jeffrey-overstreet-a-review/

My review of the third book:

http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2010/04/27/ravens-ladder-by-jeffrey-overstreet-a-review/

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. Check out what others are saying:

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Shane Deal
Chris Deane
Cynthia Dyer
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Inae Kyo
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Sarah Sawyer
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler

Author’s web site – http://lookingcloser.org/fiction/

Tales of The Dim Knight by Adam and Andrea Graham

Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam and Andrea Graham
Published 2011 by Splashdown Books, 340 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy

Mild-mannered janitor Dave Johnson finds a piece of body armor, puts it on, and discovers he has just picked up an invisible passenger–an alien symbiote (entity that lives with you in your skin) who gives him super powers.

Dave can now turn himself into Powerhouse, a superhero who darts around Seattle saving people. But he’s a bit of a dim bulb. This book is full of hilarious situations where Dave just doesn’t quite get it but the reader does, as Powerhouse pursues a canny set of bad guys and their boss, Marco.

Poor Dave doesn’t find an appropriate time to tell his wife about his hobby, so his marriage has difficulties, then reconciliation, then more difficulties, and so on. Dave tries the best to save the world, his marriage, and his children, while keeping in check the global power ambitions of his alien symbiote. But he finds that all his heroic deeds are not enough. And Marco the bad guy has things to learn too.

What do I think?

The characters in this book are endearingly cartoonish. Those who love superheroes and their exploits will like this book, especially those looking for a good laugh. And there are lessons for all of us about faith and trust in God.

Some helpful links:

http://www.dimknight.com

http://dimknight.com/samplechapter.html

Would Tales of the Dim Knight Be A Good Book for My Kids?

Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul, a review

Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul
Published 2010 by Waterbrook Press, 370 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, middle grade/young adult

This book is a sequel to Paul’s recent book The Vanishing Sculptor. However, I think Dragons of the Valley probably stands alone pretty well, because enough explanation is added.

Tipper, the king’s granddaughter, is trying to help save the kingdom of Chiril from the neighboring country to the north. At first these northerners infiltrate and cause lots of trouble, but the Chiril king makes very poor decisions, and pretty soon the trouble-makers are invading.

There’s a very troubling ally of the bad guys called the Grawl. In a world with 14 races, this guy is a cross-breed and has all kinds of abilities that others don’t have. Consequently he is a very formidable assassin, getting rid of Chiril’s magistrates and other officials one by one. After a while the country hardly functions.

Now the Grawl targets Wizard Fenworth, a key character who has appeared in several of Paul’s novels. Will the Grawl be able to kill the wizard? What about the Grawl’s other targets, the wonderful, mindspeaking, rideable dragons?

Tipper takes up her first assignment, to confiscate a statue and take off on a quest, hiding it in her belongings. Dealing with various difficulties, she moves from disbelief toward faith in Wulder, the name for Jehovah God in this world. More assignments test her: is she the selfish teen princess, or the maturing future queen?

And don’t forget Bealmondore, the foppish artist. Much to his surprise, the wizard gives him a marvelous sword that teaches him swordsmanship. After Bealmondore gives his life to Wulder, will he be inspired to heroic deeds?

What do I think?

Some of the characters have amusing cartoonish characteristics: Tipper’s mother suffers from foggy brain, useful for confusing the bad guys. Wizard Fenworth continually drops lizards and mice from his clothing whenever he shakes it out. Meanwhile, the characters that undergo change, Tipper and Bealomondore, are believable and well drawn.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. You will too.

Check out my review of the previous book in the series here:

http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2009/09/21/the-vanishing-sculptor-by-donita-k-paul-a-review/

This is part of the CSFF Blog Tour. To see what others are saying about this book, check here:
Gillian Adams
Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Amy Cruson
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Amber French
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Dave Wilson

Author’s web site – http://www.donitakpaul.com/
Author’s blog – http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com/

Venom and Song by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, a Review

venomsong

Venom and Song, Book Two of the Berinfell Prophecies, a Review
by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper
Published 2010 by Thomas Nelson, 401 pages.
Genre: Middle-grade Christian fantasy

I reviewed Curse of the Spider King, Book One of the Berinfell Prophecies, last year. It told the tale of seven elf lords from the world of Allyra, adopted and raised on Earth. At about the age of 13 special powers for each were becoming apparent, such as the ability to walk on air, read minds, shoot arrows accurately, shoot fire from hands and feet, and super strength.

In that book, the young elf lords are told of their heritage at about the same time that horrible beings from Allyra begin pursuing them and their families. It’s clear that living a regular life on Earth isn’t going to be possible, and all seven decide to go to Allyra to see if they can help the elves.

As Book Two opens, the teens are arriving in Allyra, against opposition from the Spider King and his minions. They manage to make it safely to the underground home of the elves, and then they spend several months training to work together and to use their individual special powers.

They learn more history: that the Elves have strayed far from their creator and God, Ellos, and had even at one point enslaved the gwar, the race to which the Spider King belongs. At the end of their training, the seven follow a prophecy and learn an amazing song, a song that calls the hearers back to Ellos.

Finally it’s time to attack the Spider King. The elves mount an assault on the Spider King’s fortress, Vesper Crag. It’s a long and complicated battle, where the Spider King matches elven ingenuity with his own, again and again. Will the seven lords make the difference? And what will be the cost? Do the elves call on Ellos? Does He answer? And who is the Spider King, anyway?

My thoughts:

What I really like about this series is the waywardness of the elves, the supposed good guys. They remind me of the children of Israel during the time of the prophets, having abandoned their loving God, doing their own thing. In this case they had even enslaved the other major race in their world–and then changed the history books to delete that part once it was over.

The elves have paid a steep price, the loss of their land and city and the deaths of their seven lords who had special powers. (The teen lords are the unexpected survivors.) The elves must hide underground, in a situation particularly difficult because elves require exposure to sunlight to stay alive.

The story opens at a time when the elves are not really aware of how much they have strayed from loving their God. We the readers become gradually aware of the situation at the same time as the elves do.

Now, portions of this book reminded me of the X-Men and similar works, where a group of teens with special powers is receiving instruction in using them. Another difficulty I had was keeping track of all seven protagonists. But each is given a unique and memorable personality, along with a unique and memorable gift, and I expect my difficulty has more to do with my age (over 50) than anything else.

I’ll be very interested to read more books in this series. I recommend this book for fantasy lovers of any age.

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour, and I received a free copy for review. Check out the links below to see what others are saying about this book.

Angela
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Also, here are the blogs for the authors:

Wayne Thomas Batson – http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/
Christopher Hopper – http://www.christopherhopper.com/

Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, a review

imaginary
Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, a review
Published 2010 by Tyndale House, 225 pages
Genre: Youth group discussion materials for teens

This book is a long, entertaining yarn. The author characterizes it, tongue-in-cheek, in the middle:

“Wouldn’t it be great if someone wrote a sort of semi-autobiographical novel comedy thing instead of a Sunday school lesson for once?” (p. 177)

Matt Mikalatos writes a tale about himself as a seeker, hanging out with Jesus in a coffee shop. But “Pete” (the Apostle Peter) shows up and demonstrates that this is not the real Jesus; he is an imaginary Jesus. Pretty soon we find out that there are lots of imaginary Jesuses, as many as our idolatrous imaginations can cook up. Finding the REAL Jesus becomes Matt’s goal, although he continually sidetracks himself because he enjoys hanging out with his imaginary Jesus–after all, since Matt made him up, he has a lot in common with Matt!

One of my sons, 17 years old, was talking about zoning out in Sunday School recently. The book they are reading is a exegesis of something or other. I bet if they were reading this book, he wouldn’t be zoning out. He would get to discuss his own idols and what his imaginary Jesus might be like.

There’s a story in the yarn, too; Matt starts out a novice Christian, fretting over the problem of evil: why did his unborn child die?

The book is delightfully self-conscious; besides the sentence about “wouldn’t it be nice if,” there’s another about a strange coincidence happening “purely for plot convenience,” or something like that. It’s a lot of fun, full of truth, and peppered with laughter. It’s the perfect thing for my teen son’s Sunday school class.

The book trailer:

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. If you’d like to know what others thought of this book, check out their posts:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Valerie Comer
R. L. Copple
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

A terrific blog tour on Jill Williamson

The CSFF blog tour on By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson ends tomorrow. I checked out what is posted so far and am really impressed. There were many reviews and some criticisms, but everyone recommends this book.

In particular I liked KM Wilsher’s interview with the author, discussing how she got the ideas to write the book, and even including her sketches of the characters.

Check these out!

Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Beckie Burnham
R.L. Copple
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Jeff Draper
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Tori Greene
Becky Jesse
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Krystine Kercher
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher
KM Wilsher

AND last but not least, the author’s blog:
http://jillwilliamson.wordpress.com/

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson, a Review

williamson1

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson, a Review
Book 1 in the Blood of Kings series
Published 2009 by Marcher Lord Press, 490 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for teens and adults

The kingdom of Er’Rets is pretty hard on its orphans. It calls them “strays” and beats them up. So Achan grows up a stray in the household of a minor nobleman, picked on and beaten regularly. The nobleman, Lord Nathak, makes sure he takes a red herbal potion drink every day. But one day, Achan doesn’t take the drink. Then he hears voices in his head, and is mightily puzzled. He figures out how to hold the voices at bay: think of his favorite refuge, the shade of a huge tree.

Achan’s household is fostering the spoiled brat who will be king–an orphan about Achan’s age. The prince intends to marry a young woman, Vrell, daughter of the duchess of the northern part of the kingdom, for political reasons.

Vrell, though, will have none of it. In fact, she puts on the clothing of a boy and goes into hiding. Circumstances bring her to the same city where the prince is to be crowned; the prince has chosen Achan as his bodyguard, so Achan goes too. We discover that both Achan and Vrell are able to communicate telepathically, a gift given to few. Disguised as a boy herbalist, Vrell tends Achan’s battle wounds. Making friends with him, she teaches Achan to control and use his “bloodvoicing” telepathic gifts.

In this city, some startling news comes to light, and Achan’s circumstances change forever. I’ll let you read the book to find out more.

What do I think?

Vrell is a very engaging character, full of courage and pep. Because of her, I was happy to dive into this story and stay engaged. Achan deals well with his awful circumstances, although occasionally his reactions are too noble to feel true–for example, rescuing an ungrateful person from some bullies, and rescuing the ungrateful prince from attackers. The fantasy world is well drawn; I can easily enter in. Although by the end of the book much is revealed, plenty of mysteries remain, such as why exactly half the country is covered in darkness, and why exactly half of Lord Nathak’s face is withered and under a mask.

It’s a Christian book, clearly; Achan is raised praying to an idol, but he learns to recognize that the one true God speaks to him in his thoughts. Vrell is already one of the relatively few followers of this one God, and Achan is becoming one.

This book was very hard to put down. In fact, I didn’t! I read it all the way through on a Sunday afternoon and evening. It’s quite a page turner. It’s a wonderful book, one that is sure to draw readers into the Christian fantasy genre.–Phyllis Wheeler

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour, meaning a number of other bloggers are writing about this book too during the next three days. Please take a moment to check out what they are saying too~

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Gina Burgess
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
R.L. Copple
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Sarah Flanagan
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

AND last but not least, the author’s blog: http://jillwilliamson.wordpress.com/

Raven’s Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet, a Review

ravensladder

Raven’s Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet, a Review
Published by Waterbrook Press, 2009, 380 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for teens and adults

I read the first book in this series, Auralia’s Colors, but didn’t have time to read the acclaimed second one, Cyndere’s Midnight. This is the third in the series of four called The Auralia Thread. As I read Raven’s Ladder, I missed out on various references to previous happenings. I do recommend you read these in order!

Raven is Cal-Raven, the young king of the refugee community of House Abascar. In the first book, Abascar’s King Cal-Marcus made some terrible decisions that resulted in the loss of the community’s lovely dwelling, most of their people, and the death of Cal-Marcus.

Now Cal-Raven is trying to lead his refugee people through a dangerous land to a new home as revealed to him by the Keeper, an Aslan figure. Problem is, they mostly don’t trust his vision for a new home, or for a new order for them where previous class lines are erased and former nobles are expected to rub shoulders with former criminals. They remind me of the reluctant Israelites following Moses in the desert.

After a year of hiding out in a large cave, they take a sojourn in Egypt, so to speak: another of the four houses of the Expanse, Bel Amica, draws them in. In Bel Amica they find plenty of food and material wealth and are given jobs to earn their keep. However, it’s a Godless place, where everyone is out for himself. Wicked seers are in charge in all but name. Treason is afoot. Will House Abascar be able to leave?

Another thread in the story involves more refugees from House Abascar who are prisoners of the beastmen of House Cent Regus. House Cent Regus at some point in the past was accursed, and its people became hideous beastmen, addicted to the elixir that binds them to beastliness, mindless in their aggressions.

The Keeper has sent a boy named Rescue to save them, but he needs Cal-Raven’s help. Will these prisoners be set free?

What do I think?

This book is very lyrical, full of wonderful and original uses of words. It’s also a great page-turner of a story, impossible to predict and full of illusions where things are not as they seem at first.

I was struck by the portrayal of godless House Bel Amica, where everyone is out for himself, people worship moon spirits, and occult seers are in charge in all but name. The materialism described sounds familiar. Could it be a version of America? What does this vision have to tell us about ourselves? Interesting thing to ponder.

Men who become beasts, with their exterior imitating their dark interior, is a theme as old as the folktale. Like other stories, this story includes a beast who is redeemed. Also good to ponder: where is the beast in me?

In short, this book engaged me on mental and emotional levels, and tickled my beauty appreciation sense. I suspect other lovers of fantasy will want to feast on this book too. –Phyllis Wheeler

My review of the first book:

http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2010/04/26/auralias-colors-by-jeffrey-overstreet-a-review/

My review of the fourth book:

http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2011/05/16/the-ale-boys-feast-by-jeffrey-overstreet-a-review/

This is Day Two of the CSFF Blog Tour on Raven’s Ladder. Check out what others have to say about this book. Participants who had blogged about it as of this morning have a “+” by their name below.

Author’s Blog

+ Brandon Barr
Rachel Briard
Keanan Brand
+ Beckie Burnham
+ Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
+ Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
+ Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
+ April Erwin
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
+ Jason Joyner
+ Julie
+ Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
+ Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
+ John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
+ Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
+ James Somers
+ Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
+ Fred Warren
+ Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher