It’s the third and final day of the March CSFF Blog Tour for Faery Rebels–Spellhunter, so it’s time to leave the hollow oak tree and see what’s happening in the world beyond.
You Don’t Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression: R.J. Anderson is rockin’ the ‘net with a good-looking author website. It’s easy to navigate and includes plenty of information about Ms. Anderson and her books without becoming cluttered or overwhelming. Check out the Essays section for perspectives on YA literature and the reasons Ms. Anderson writes about faeries. For current news and events, refer to her LiveJournal blog.
Cover Girl: The cover image of Faery Rebels–Spellhunter polarized our bloggers. Some people, like Donita Paul, loved it. Others, like John W. Otte, thought it too reminiscent of Tinkerbell or otherwise not reflective of the character. Those who disliked the cover tended to favor the original art on the U.K. version, by the legendary Brian Froud, who definitely knows his way around the world of faerie.
My take: they each convey some truth about the heroine, with the U.S. version more “Bryony” and the U.K. version more “Knife,” and they’re each a little scary in their own way.
Rebel Without a Clue: The superb review by first-time CSFF contributor Amanda Barr zeroed-in on a potential problem area for parents of young readers. Bryony/Knife repeatedly rebels against the strictures of her community and lands herself in some very dangerous situations, often driven only by her vanity and curiosity. Not exactly a role model for young girls. Maybe I’m a little desensitized on this issue after three teenagers, but in my reading, I saw the heroine progressively mature out of self-centeredness and random rebellion into self-sacrifice and concern for the welfare of others. Everybody makes this journey, and with God’s help and loving guidance from the adults in our lives (sometimes firm guidance), we’ll survive it.
This is a valid concern, and it’s important to be aware of the messages our children glean from literature and other media. It’s one very good reason to read along with them.
Of Definitions and Watchful Dragons: In a first for the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour, we’re reviewing a book from a secular publishing house (HarperCollins), though I’m reasonably certain, based on her comments in the afterword and in the essays on her website, that Ms. Anderson is a Christian author, and the Tour wouldn’t be complete without asking the question, “Is this a Christian story?”
Well, that depends on your definition of a Christian story. If you mean a story that unambiguously and explicitly declares the Gospel message, then the answer is no. If you mean a story that portrays and reinforces Christian values and beliefs, directly or indirectly, then the consensus answer is yes, and you can read more details about this point of view on Rebecca Miller’s and Timothy Hicks‘ blogs, among others, although some reviewers, such as Stacey Dale’s husband, couldn’t put their finger on any themes or images they thought were particularly Christian.
I tend to agree with the second definition, since I believe a Christian author’s faith is going to inhabit whatever they write, in some fashion, whether they intend it or not. The reader, especially a Christian reader, is going to find those threads of faith, those images and allusions and virtues.
We worry a lot about subtle non-Christian influences in literature, purposeful or otherwise, but I think we tend not to give our Christian authors enough credit for bringing their own subtle, yet powerful influences that point the reader toward God even when they’re not writing directly about the faith. C.S. Lewis called it “stealing past the watchful dragons” of a non-Christian reader’s skepticism and suspicion of Christianity, and it’s most effective, in my opinion, when you’re not trying too hard to make it happen.
Whichever side they took on the spiritual message, I think its safe to say that our reviewers agreed that Faery Rebels–Spellhunter is a well-written, absorbing tale that Christian young people and their parents can read and enjoy together.
Yes, that was Me in the Hello Kitty Store: A couple of folks congratulated me and a few of the other male Tour contributors for having the guts to review, and even admit we liked, what might seem to the casual observer to be a “girly” book. Hey, a good story is a good story, and when you’re married and have a daughter, there’s a lot of pink and purple in your life already. You deal with it. Will I now begin filling my bookshelves with tales of pixies and fairy dust?
I’m going outside to grill some steaks now. Venison steaks. Then I’m going to watch the NCAA Basketball Tournament while recording NASCAR on the DVR. I may spend some time at Home Depot later. Wearing my John Deere cap.
That concludes my piece of this month’s CSFF Blog Tour. Check back in next month, when we review Lost Mission, an excursion into magic realism by Athol Dickson.
Is that anything like mundane fantasy? Hmm.
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
>>This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<