Shadowmancer

ShadowmancerShadowmancer

By: G. P. Taylor

http://www.gptaylor.info/

(YA/Historical/Fantasy)

How do all the Christian books keep finding me? Yup, that’s right, I did it again. I really need to be a bit more careful at book sales, but how could I pass up something called Shadowmancer? It certainly didn’t seem Christian to me at first glance. It also happens to be a young adult novel, which I also happened to overlook, since I only read the back cover and not the inside jacket. I really need to be more discerning in my book sale choices. While it is tempting to grab anything that looks at all appealing, maybe I could rein it in a few notches.

The tale of an overzealous Vicar, evil by nature, and willing to go to any lengths for absolute power, was appealing at first. Classic good versus evil. Taking place in the eighteenth century also added a nice twist, and overall it was a perfectly decent story, but not quite what I was looking for.

The religious aspects of this book were not nearly as preachy as Ted Dekker’s books, or a retelling of biblical stories. At first I didn’t mind it. G.P. Taylor’s version of God, known in this story as Riathamus, was more on track with the kind, but powerful entity I had in mind. It was all about the support and force of God in the face of evil. I can work with that. But once it was suggested that anyone worshiping pagan gods were essentially worshiping evil, or that tarot cards were the tools of the devil, I lost some of my interest. My mind is just a little too wide open for that.

The two main characters are thirteen, so it’s on the young end of the YA spectrum. It felt a little more like a children’s book to me. It had its charming moments with a connection to the folklore of the time and the area, but in the end, the plot seemed to work out a little too simply in places. Now, that’s perfectly fine for this book’s target audience, but I would have liked something a bit more complex.

Ultimately, this was just the wrong book for me. Wrong age group, wrong religion. Christian, YA, fantasy novels are just not my thing, but I think, with the right audience, this would be an enjoyable read. I certainly didn’t hate it. From now on though, I will be checking a book’s religious affiliations before I grab it…even if it is only a dollar. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

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Black

The Circle TrilogyBlack (The Circle Series)

By: Ted Dekker

www.teddekker.com

(Fantasy/Suspense/Christian)

I have mixed feelings about this book. When I picked it up at a book sale, I didn’t realize it was Christian. It just looked like a super cool fantasy novel, with an interesting premise. The book was in great condition and I always like to grab one volume trilogies whenever I can find them.

I had high hopes in the beginning. The cover art looked promising, and the story of a man who lives in two worlds, falling asleep in one and waking in the other, not knowing which is real and which is a dream, was intriguing. I loved it at first, with it’s thriller like pace of flipping from one world to the next, danger lurking in both realms. The other world, with the colored forest did seem to have certain religious similarities, but authors draw on these ideas all the time so I didn’t think much of it. About 100 pages into it, I happened to look at the back of the book, just out of curiosity, and there it was, just above the bar-code… Fiction/Christian/Suspense. It was at that moment the story was ruined for me, but I kept reading anyway.

Suffice it to say, I don’t share the same beliefs as the author. I wouldn’t have read the book at all had I realized it was Christian. Even with this new knowledge, I wanted to love the story anyway, but every time religion popped up I lost focus. It wasn’t something I could easily ignore.

My biggest problem with the religion was the portrayal of Elyon (God). Nearly every encounter with Elyon felt overwhelming and completely dominating, and even though it was meant to be a positive thing, I just didn’t like it. I prefer to see God as calm, strong, and loving, in a way that is serene rather than forceful. The rest of the religious aspects were blatant, and despite my extremely limited knowledge of the bible, felt like carbon copies of the basic stories and themes you find there. If the religion had been a more subtle influence in the story, something you had to think about in order to find, I might have been able to enjoy it, but it just felt too transparently preachy.

Ignoring religion for a moment, I found the characters to be lacking in complexity. They were simple with little depth, and their choices lacked struggle and conflict. Some were too easily fooled, and while I can understand why given the context, it was a little disappointing.

While the plot was compelling enough for me to seriously consider reading it anyway, I think I’m going to have to let this one go. In the long run, I think I’ll find it more frustrating than enjoyable to read three more books like this one, when there are so many other wonderful novels on my to read list. If you happen to be Christian however, you will probably love this series. I just don’t think this one’s for me. Until next time…

Happy Reading!