The evil will stop only when life leaves the leader Gad. But he has hidden his mortality. “Only if that mortality can be found and destroyed will Gad be vulnerable to attack.” (173) Only a mortal can destroy Gad's mortality – a mortal like Freya or Daniel.
The time is getting desperate. Evil is already beginning to rise on the surface of the earth. In the north of Great Britain, animals have been found slaughtered, people murdered and committing suicide.
Only Daniel or Freya can stop the rise of evil from below.
As the book progresses, we follow three stories. In the now, it is three years after the underground adventure. Freya is in college and Daniel is a wandering fellow. Their current stories converge then they are again separated as Daniel has “fallen” into another world and Freya battles evil on the surface. Interspersed with the (nearly) present story is the account of “before,” when Freya and Daniel were underground. Although it sounds a bit disjointed, in general, the storyline works. On occasion I would let the book lie for a couple of days and when I resumed reading, it would take me a while to figure out which time period I was reading. I would suggest you read this book through, not reading other novels along with it, as I am wont to do.
The spiritual lessons in the book are clear. There is evil and then there is very deceptive evil. There are also theological ideas to think about. For example, as Daniel wanders through a forest, he asks and the forest provides what he needs. “What he couldn't understand was whether the forest was creating these things for him on request or if they existed already and was just moving them into his path. Or if it was all just coincidence.” (208-209) Haven't we had the same kinds of thoughts about God's providence?
This is a great debut for a new fantasy author, following in his father's footsteps. I would have tightened up the telling of the various stories (“now,” “two weeks before,” “then,” etc.) but that did not bother me so much as I still enjoyed the overall story. I look forward to the sequel, as the evil has not yet been destroyed, only mortally wounded.
A reader's guide is included at the end of the book so this would be a fine choice of fantasy reading groups.
Ross Lawhead has collaborated with his father on a trilogy of speculative fiction, written and illustrated a graphic novel, and published two volumes of poetry. This is his first full-length novel. He lives in Oxford, England. You can find more of his thoughts at www.rosslawhead.com/blog/.
Thomas Nelson, 377 pages. Buy the book from ChristianBook.com.
I am participating in the CSFF blog tour of this book and received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher for that purpose.
You may want to check out the review of others participating in this blog tour:
CSFF Blog Tour
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Rachel Starr Thomson