In this new fantasy from renowned theologian Alister McGrath, the land of Aedyn has been overtaken by mysterious lords who trust only in their own reason. Two children called from our world have the power to lead the revolution, but will they find the courage to face their own destiny?
A slight but engaging fantasy wilts under the burden of religious allegory. Julia and Peter, two teenage siblings in an oddly atemporal Oxford, are whisked into the alternate land of Aedyn and tasked with freeing those enslaved by a brutal trio of sorcerors. While the prose is competent and some of the imagery lovely, the narrative relies on an uninspired retread of generic fantasy tropes. Characterization rarely rises above gender essentialism and heavy-handed symbolism: Peter, representing “Science,” is clever and well-meaning but also smug, untrustworthy and led astray by blind naturalism; Julia, as “Faith,” in contrast, is compassionate, imaginative and open-minded, if prone to leaping to conclusions. The villains are bullies and buffoons, with no function beyond being Evil. Between overtly telegraphing Good Guys and Bad Guys and dropping in wildly convenient magical powers and overheard bits of exposition, the plot carefully defuses any hint of suspense. By the point the rebels stage a blatant appropriation of Passover, all pretense at subtlety is discarded. Pleasing, perhaps, for its target audience, but they deserve better; Narnia this ain’t. (Fantasy. 10-14)
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