Posts Tagged With: Demons

Are You Ready to Be Scared? Fantasy by Jonathan Stroud

Lockwood and Co.“Between the ages of seven and nine I was often ill, and spent long periods in hospital and at home in bed. During this time I escaped from boredom and frustration by reading furiously: books littered my bedroom floor like bones in a lion’s cave. I tended to enjoy stories of magical adventure more than ones about real life – I think this was because they provided a more complete escape. Around this time I fell in love with fantasy.” Jonathan Stroud (www.jonathanstroud.com)

Jonathan Stroud is a wonderful wordsmith and a skilled world maker. His two fantasy series, Lockwood & Co. and The Bartimaeus Sequence, employ supernatural beings that frighten and intrigue the reader.

I’ve read The Screaming Staircase and The Whispering Skull in the Lockwood & Co. series and am looking forward to getting my hands on the third novel, The Hollow Boy, which has just been published.

Mr. Stroud uses his home turf, the City of London, as his setting, but has masterfully altered it to create a fantasy world in which “The Problem” has occurred, an invasion of ghostly hauntings that frighten and often kill the human residents. A culture of children and teen warriors has arisen to do serious battle with these malevolent apparitions.

Anthony Lockwood, Lucy Carlyle, and George Cubbins make up the members of the maverick agency Lockwood & Co. that dares to venture out at night to solve ghostly hauntings without the supervision of adults. Lucy, a teen girl with the dubious gift of hearing ghosts joins in the adventures of the two boys who inhabit a rambling three-story house in the city.

I am not a believer in ghosts, but I found myself irresistibly pulled into the world Mr. Stroud created.  Swords at their sides, intrepid “agents” risk their lives locating the source of the ghosts – often a burial ground, beloved object, or murder site. Ancient wrongs are righted, people are protected, and human evildoers are unmasked. Weapons that work on the supernatural creatures include salt bombs, magnesium flares, iron chains, and silver rapiers.

I was introduced to Jonathan Stroud’s writing in his earlier New York Times bestselling series: The Bartimaeus Sequence: The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye, Ptolemy’s Gate, and The Ring of Solomon.

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In the Bartimaeus books, the people who sought to harness the power of demons have become evil themselves (which is a fair warning to resist summoning evil spirits). These demonic slaves nurse an abiding hatred for their human masters and ceaselessly seek to escape – to destroy, kill, and then return to their hellish home. Nathaniel, an inexperienced, yet arrogant magician’s apprentice, encounters Kitty, a member of the Resistance, and finds himself rethinking his role in the governmental system that has placed power in the hands of corrupt officials who use it to further their own selfish interests.

Both the Lockwood and Co. Series and the Bartimaeus Sequence contain story lines and world building that are based on a view that the occult world, be it demonic or ghostly, is dangerous and opposed to the wellbeing of humans.   This was comforting to me because I threw away my ouija board as a teenager, and as an adult, continue to have nothing to do with contacting the evil spiritual world. I would like to point out that the demon Bartimaeus is a sympathetic character that incongruously develops some concern for his human counterparts. This puts him in an odd “good demon” category.

As a fantasy author, Mr. Stroud never opens a window into the Heavenly realm, nor does he bring in the helpful services of angels or the power of a benevolent God to work on behalf of the beleaguered people in his stories.  It is best lockwood & co. 3if the reader enters Mr. Stroud’s fantasy worlds without expecting a Christian worldview.  Taking that into consideration, these two series are delightfully scary, interesting and penned by an excellent storyteller.

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Categories: British novels, Children's Books, Fantasy, young adult fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Screwtape Letters – More from C.S. Lewis for Narnia Fans

screwtape 1C.S. Lewis may be best known for his seven children’s novels called The Chronicles of Narnia (which I adore by the way and have blogged on a few times already). However, another jewel in the crown of his literary and apologetic achievements is the notable epistolary novel The Screwtape Letters. Author C.S. Lewis masterfully composed letters from the fictional demon “Uncle Screwtape” to his nephew “Wormwood”. Screwtape offers diabolical advice on how to tempt Wormwood’s human assignment. Lewis writes letters solely from Screwtape’s perspective and cleverly alludes to what Wormwood has previously written.

Although the book was written for adults, teen readers may find themselves able to comprehend the underlying truths: “These letters from veteran devil Screwtape to his novice nephew Wormwood shed more humbling light on the spiritual weaknesses of people than they do on the state of supernatural beings. Wit and wisdom combine to aid us all to discern better the traps of the Evil One.” Honey for a Teen’s Heart by Barbara Hampton and Gladys Hunt

Our family enjoyed listening to the wonderful 2009 Focus on the Family Radio Theatre production of The Screwtape Letters with the vocal talents of Andy Serkis who played the character of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films.

One must continually keep in mind that C.S. Lewis’ used the irony of “hearing from a devil” to stir our minds and hearts to encounter old truths in a fresh way. Hopefully, the following excerpts of the wit and wisdom of C.S. Lewis may whet your appetite to read or re-read this classic. (Screwtape refers to God as “the Enemy” in all his letters):

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“At present the Enemy says ‘Mine’ of everything on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it: Our Father hopes in the end to say ‘Mine’ of all things on the more realistic and dynamic ground of conquest.”

“All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged.”

“He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. In a word, the Future, is of all things, the thing least like eternity – for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.”

“The aim is to guide each sex away from those members of the other with whom spiritually helpful, happy, and fertile marriage are most likely.”

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground.”

“He would therefore have them continually concerned with eternity…or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.”

Several articles from C.S. Lewis aficionado, Brenton Dickieson of www.apilgriminnarnia.com offer a more in-depth look at the Scewtape Letters. http://apilgriminnarnia.com/2014/01/20/impossible-beauty/

Categories: British novels, Classics, Fantasy, Humorous, Inspiration, Read Aloud, young adult fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Broken Wings – CSFF Blog Tour Choice

Broken-Wings_coverI love fantasy and science fiction novels – always have, always will.  I have posted on my blog about J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles.  A contemporary fantasy author,  L.B. Graham, made my fantasy favorites list with his Binding of the Blade series.  Now I have another author to recommend: Shannon Dittemore, author of the Angel Eyes Trilogy.

I was introduced to this author by the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour which was initiated by a group of writers who saw a need to raise reader awareness about the books in the genre after reports that editors were not seeking to expand SF and fantasy due to a small market.  In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of Broken Wings from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the book.

Broken Wings is the second novel in the trilogy which just came out this past February.  The third and final novel, Dark Halo, will be available August 20, 2013.  Although I committed to an honest review of the second novel in the series, I made sure to read the first one first! Angel Eyes was good, but in my opinion, Broken Wings was better.  This author bravely tackles the realm of angels and demons much like Frank Peretti in This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness.  Demons feature in many current books and movies, but more rarely are angels highlighted.  Dittemore does a splendid job of detailing different types of angels: “shields” (guardian angels), “sabres” (worshipping angels from God’s throne room), and “cherubim” (messengers), among others.  The novel flashes back and forth between the “Celestial” and “Terrestrial” realms.

Using the contemporary setting of Oregon, Dittemore weaves a compelling story of teenageers drawn against their will into celestial adventures that threaten to overwhelm them in their intensity.  The author uses dialogue with fluency to create personalities and relationships between characters.  High school seniors, Brielle and Jake, stand at the center of the story, with interesting friends and relatives surrounding them.  Although the trilogy is written for young adults, it touches on some mature themes such as child trafficking, familial alcoholism, and sexual attraction.  However, the underlying message is that redemption and restoration will come in the end.

Shannon Dittemore doesn’t sugarcoat life’s real battles: “I’m a firm believer that books open doors into the imagination and remind us that we should venture there often. We should dream. We should try hard things. We should be fearless. And while there are many obstacles that stand in the way, I hope my stories remind readers that life is to be lived. Pain is to be tackled. Mountains are to be climbed. And while you may fall into dark places along the way, light is as close as the prayer on your lips.”  from the author’s website:  http://shannondittemore.com

Particularly compelling to me is the contention in the books that when human beings worship God the Creator,  breakthrough in the celestial battle between good and evil occurs.  I also enjoyed the  element of mystery which is nicely developed throughout books one and two.

My only complaints are the following:  1)  the descriptions of actual combat are awkward.  2)  the romance between Brielle and Jake seems accelerated for their age.  3) each novel cuts off at the last page with such painful cliff-hanging.

http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Wings-Angel-Eyes-Novel/dp/1401686370/

Other bloggers who participated in the tour are:

<a href=”http://ofbattlesdragonsandswordsofadamant.blogspot.com/“> Gillian Adams</a>

<a href=”http://kinynchronicles.blogspot.com/“> Julie Bihn</a>

<a href=”http://quiverfullfamily.com/“> Jennifer Bogart </a>

<a href=”http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com/“> Beckie Burnham</a>

<a href=”http://hosannaschristianreader.blogspot.com/“> Pauline Creeden</a>

<a href=”http://janey-demeo.blogspot.com/“> Janey DeMeo</a>

<a href=”http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com/“> Theresa Dunlap</a>

<a href=”http://myrdan.com/“> Emma or Audrey Engel</a>

<a href=”http://vicsmediaroom.wordpress.com/“> Victor Gentile</a>

<a href=”http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com/“> Nikole Hahn</a>

<a href=”http://jessebecky.wordpress.com/“> Becky Jesse</a>

<a href=”http://www.spoiledfortheordinary.blogspot.com/“> Jason Joyner</a>

<a href=”http://thestephanieloves.blogspot.com/“> Karielle @ Books à la Mode </a>

<a href=”http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/“> Carol Keen</a>

<a href=”http://emileightherebuilder.blogspot.com/“> Emileigh Latham</a>

<a href=”http://www.shannonmcdermott.com/“> Shannon McDermott</a>

<a href=”http://www.bloomingwithbooks.blogspot.com/“> Meagan @ Blooming with Books</a>

<a href=”http://hardcoverfeedback.blogspot.com/“</a> Megan @ Hardcover Feedback

<a href=”http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/“> Rebecca LuElla Miller</a>

<a href=”http://www.bookwomanjoan.blogspot.com/“> Joan Nienhuis</a>

<a href=”http://dadscancooktoo.com/“> Nathan Reimer</a>

<a href=”http://www.jamessomers.blogspot.com/“> James Somers</a>

<a href=”http://reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/“> Kathleen Smith</a>

<a href=”http://www.jojosutiscorner.wordpress.com“> Jojo Sutis</a>

<a href=”http://stevetrower.com/“> Steve Trower</a>

<a href=”http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/blog/“> Phyllis Wheeler</a>

<a href=”http://www.shanewerlinger.com/“> Shane Werlinger</a>

Categories: Fantasy, Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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