Category Archives: Fantasy

Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality. Includes: fantasy (Dungeons & Dragons, High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy), fables (mythical creatures, like unicorns, faeries, ghosts, Greek and Roman gods, vampires, zombies, werewolves and other were-animals), non-Biblical angels and demons, and other non-sensical or magical creatures or characters.

Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue by Chuck Black

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

This is the fourth book in the Knights of Arrethtrae series by author Chuck Black. Each book in Black’s series tells the story of one knight who deals with specific trials and temptations but overcomes through faith in the King and the Prince. The stories are a straight forward allegory of how following God, the King, and Jesus, the Prince, help the knights (and ladies), Christians, overcome adversity. In Lady Carliss, we find a young believer who stumbles upon a plot by the evil Shadow Warrior, Satan and the devils. When her fellow knight, Sir Dalton, is poisoned Lady Carliss must embark on a journey to Moorue, a city filled with temptation, to find the antidote.

Many teen novels have found a growing fan base in adult readers, like Twilight, Harry Potter and the Artemis Fowl series, but this book series is strictly for younger readers. The author’s straight forward and obvious plot lines would be satisfying to a younger audience, eight to 12 year-olds, but older or more sophisticated readers will not find enough meat on the bones of the allegory to enthrall. Due to Black’s tight adherence to the allegory he find little to no wriggle room to follow the story and characters where they may lead. The story may become a more satisfying one if it diverged from the Christianity / Salvation theme. Many Christian stories do this successfully, see my review of Raven’s Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet, for an example. Unfortunately, this book left me unsatisfied as a reader.

However, as the father of young children I found the story to be a great tool for instruction and a good stepping stone to better literature – after all reading books, any books really, if fundamental! The author has thoughtfully provided study questions for every chapter and additional extras that make it clear that this book is a teaching tool more than a work of fiction. Recommended to Christian children and tweens, not to older teens or adults.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

The Templars have fallen on hard times in this young adult horror / fantasy novel by first time novelist Sarwat Chadda. Hunted down by the church and demonic forces over several centuries, only a small group of Templars remain to hold back the darkness. Residing in modern London, Billi SanGreal, the reluctant teenage daughter of the current Head Master of the Templars, Arthur SanGreal, is the newest member of the knighthood. Things take a turn for the worse – possibly Armageddon worse – when one of the Templars accidentally draws the attention of the Angel of Death. What follows is a predictable young adult fantasy with an ending that the reader will see far in advance.

Though predictable in plot, the characters are interesting and the take on the genre is compelling. For secular fans of the genre, this book is worth purchasing and foretells a promising future for Chadda. But for Christian readers the book signifies something more, and less desirable. < This book is the unfortunate result of the popularity of modern fantasy set in real world locales that mix myth, legend and religion into an unholy concoction resulting in the dumbing down of the three complex ingredients. When religion, which most of the world recognizes as real - not fantasy - is mixed with and then placed on the same level as myth or fantasy it becomes equivalent to fantasy, something that faithful readers of all religions should be concerned about. Targeting these books at young adults further complicates the issue as young faithful readers receive a message mixing myth, legends and reality in a way that can make it hard to distinguish between them. In a society that is increasingly Biblically illiterate this spells trouble. To be clear: I have no issue with fantasy. In fact, it is my favorite genre. Fantasy realms like that of Harry Potter, for instance, are set in a fictionalized real world but diverge from reality when it comes to sacred religion. This is vastly preferable as faithful readers can enjoy books like Harry Potter without worry that the author will pit the fantasies of that world against the realities of this one. Because of the equivocation of myth and religion in the world of the Devils Kiss, I do not recommend this book to faithful readers. Secular readers may enjoy a generic, although entertaining young adult fantasy.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Green by Ted Dekker

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.


Stephen Lawhead did an interview that was published in the back of a recent edition of his excellent Song of Albion trilogy where the interviewer asked him if he would ever go back to Albion and write a sequel. Lawhead answered with the equivalent of “No [bleeping] way!”

I first read Ted Dekker’s Circle Trilogy several years ago. I remember with vivid clarity the beautiful world that he created where God literally played with his followers. The scene in Black, the first book, where Thomas Hunter found the lake upside down and gravity non-existent was marvelous! As Michael said, “Oh, he sometimes does things like this.” loved it!
As the series went on I enjoyed the pace and grandness of the story. Would Thomas save the world? Was the world of Thomas’ dreams the future, an allegory for Heaven, or the real world? Again, I loved it. So when Green was announced I was full of anticipation of finding out what happened next.

Unfortunately, what happened was the proof that Lawhead was right. You should never go back. As I read Green, I became more and more frustrated that the book had been written at all. Once I finished Green, I went back and re-read Black just to be certain of my conclusions prior to publishing them in this review. My recollections were correct: Green should not be part of the Circle.

As a fan of the Circle Trilogy, I believe it was a terrible decision to write this book. The new ending/ beginning was completely unsatisfying (why would God do what he did at the end of Green when we already know what happens?) The addition of vampires was the nail in the coffin. If you want to read the Circle Trilogy go ahead. Just don’t read Green.

This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit ThomasNelson.com for more information on this book.

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The Secret of Indigo Moon by G.P. Taylor

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

I had previously started to read Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor but hadn’t gotten in too far before I set it aside so I wasn’t expecting much out of his new series. The quote on the back cover of the book calling G.P. Taylor, “The new C.S. Lewis” didn’t help either. Yet, sometimes out of nowhere there comes a revelation. When I opened The Secret of Indigo Moon, book two in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles I had one of those moments.

The story is standard fare for youth fiction. A young man and his twin friends live at a school for abandoned children and stumble upon a theft and decide to investigate. Enter their enemy from the first book, along with a soft-hearted henchman, and a cast of interesting if unoriginal characters and you have the ingredients for a story that any middle schooler would enjoy. But it wasn’t the story that was the revelation. It was the presentation.

Open the book and you immediately find yourself in an amazing world of line art, comic book pages, fantastic fonts and typeset pages. Illustrations give form to the characters that imagination can sometimes leaves incomplete. Huge two-page drawings, like the clock on page 2 and 3, cause the reader to switch between reading to interpreting (you have to tell the time yourself,) and then back to reading on page 4 then to comics on pages 5 and 6. The multimedia experience keeps the reader involved from the start. I loved it!

It seems that anyone can write a teen fantasy judging from the volume of new titles on any bookstore shelf. But something different can serve to get a teen who perhaps doesn’t read to become a reader or those give those who like to read something different. G.P. Taylor isn’t the new C.S. Lewis but he did come up with a great idea for a series of books.

This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit Tyndale.com for more information on this book.

C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

Focus on the Family and Tyndale take C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, a series of imaginative and insightful letters from a senior demon, the title character Screwtape, to his novice nephew Wormwood, and add over four hours of audio by an accomplished cast of actors, like Andy Serkis, Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies as Screwtape, and 10 original songs written for this production all in 5.1 surround sound. The Collectors Edition comes with 4 CDs and 1 DVD in a tri-fold case with original artwork with a slipcover. All 10 original songs are included in their entirety on disc four. Disc 5 includes behind the scenes featurettes.

Anyone familiar with the original book by Lewis will instantly recognize his witty and timely message; nothing is lost in the translation. The actors play their part just right – not too over the top and certainly not blandly. The original score hits just the right creepy note. The benefits of the 5.1 surround sound can not be over-stated.

The packaging is well done and gives the impression of worth even though the set only costs about $27 on Amazon.com
. ($39.99 MSRP.)

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this well done audio dramatization of Lewis’ excellent book. So many times the publishers don’t put in the effort on audio books and we end up with a lame soundtrack read by a boring voice actor. Not so with The Screwtape Letters. I highly recommend it to you.

For more information visit the official site.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.