Warning: some inappropriate content for Christian readers
February 17, 2016
My two daughters have been reading this series. They could hardly put them down and say that Overstreet is one of the most talented contemporary authors they've read. However, my 13 yr. old said she reluctantly had to quit reading them (even though she's DYING to finish the series) because of inappropriate content. Her words are: "The first book has SOME questionable material, but books 2 and 3 have far too much". She quit reading book 3 as it became obvious the main hero of the book (Cal-Raven, whom you grow to love and admire) is lusting after a married woman (Emeriene). Jeffrey Overstreet doesn't let any actual adultery take place. I read through one of the more questionable scenes myself, and he does a pretty good job of depicting mounting sexual tension between the hero and the woman, involving some touching and lustful sweet talk. It is clear that as the audience, you are supposed to feel this tension and want the two characters to consummate their desires. Not cool! This was one of several romantic scenes. The author presents this with no hint of disapproval--you are supposed to be routing for this relationship and approving of it, since the woman is married to a terrible villain. My younger daughter, who finished the series, says the author in no way uses these scenarios to teach a biblical lesson. Book 2, "Cyndere's Midnight", has similar adulterous situations.
The best fiction transports the reader into the setting of the book. The adventure written becomes an adventure experienced. Characters aren't just described by the author, they are befriended by the reader. This is when reading becomes an engrossing, consuming experience, and books become a work of art rather than a mere production. Jeffrey Overstreet wields this kind of book magic in his "Auralia Thread" series.
"Raven's Ladder" (book #3) was my first encounter with the series, and as the story developed I felt like I had stepped into a well-developed, alternate world. The members of a fallen House are struggling to survive in a wilderness, and a mysterious danger lurks below ground. A young king believes in childish myths about The Keeper and risks everything to follow his mystical guides. A group of devious seer-types control an economic stronghold where the people worship moon spirits and follow their own pursuits and pleasures wholeheartedly. And a malady which turns men to beasts has destroyed another House and threatens all the land.
The tale is so different it takes a while to feel comfortable in the story. And when you begin to sense the grandeur of the tale, glimpses of connections to Christianity make the tale all the more alluring. Auralia's vivid colors mesmerize all who remember them, and visions of beauty stand out all the more starkly against a pervasive and widespread ugliness. Whispers of The Keeper and the mystery of a long forgotten past make figuring out this world much less easy than it seems.
As the tale progresses, high and low points ebb and flow. The conclusion will leave you begging for more, and wondering what is in store for young King Cal-raven and the other heroes of the book. And after finishing this book, you may feel the urge to read the first two books to enjoy the world Jeffrey Overstreet has created to its fullest extent.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah publishers for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
There is one major issue when reading a series such as this one... it is really beneficial to read them as close together as possible. I have read the first two books in this series and thought they were excellent. A series that is fresh, innovative, fun, but deep and with an amazingly unique world that is captivating. The problem is that since putting book #2 down I have read about 200 other books so the details were a little cloudy going into this one. I valiantly spent the first couple chapters refreshing my memory and reintroducing myself to the characters as the first two books came flooding back. Once reacquainted with my surroundings I sat back and enjoyed myself.Following Cal-Raven as he leads his people to a New Abascar, on their detour to Bel Amica and on side roads to the Cent Regus. His Captain Tabor Jan does his best to hold things together as Cal-Raven searches for where The Keeper wants them to go, but circumstances are out of his hands. Cyndere at Bel Amica still wants to help them in memory of her husband, but she is up against the Seers and Ryllion. The plots twist and turn and I really enjoyed this book. I am hoping that there is another book coming, there were lots of loose ends... but I honestly don't know. At any rate, this is a series that will capture your imagination, I just recommend reading them close together.
I haven't read a lot of Christian fantasy novels, but I've enjoyed the ones I've read to date. Ravens Ladder was no exception. Mr. Overstreet is a masterful & imaginative storywriter. He's created a wonderful fantasy world, & has described it with lots of color & creativity.As seems to be the case with all Christian fantasy novels I have read to date, it has taken me a couple chapters to get it. Ravens Ladder was no exception. I did hang in there & was soon drawn into the story & its characters. As is often the case when you join a book series midstream, there's the concern that it will be difficult to follow the storyline. I didn't find that to be the case with Ravens Ladder. It stands alone very well. And Jeffrey helps those of us who are joining the series in the middle by providing A Guide to the Characters at the back of the book, a tool which I found most invaluable through the entire reading of the novel (there are a lot of characters; pay attention!).I found this book to be extremely well-written; Mr. Overstreet is a masterful storyteller. It was adventurous & mysterious, & the story kept moving. I was a little surprised that the story was not more overtly Christian (unless I overlooked something). It is billed as Fiction/Fantasy, but since it is published by Waterbrook Press (the Christian imprint owned by Random House Publishers), I expected it to be more allegorical. There were some elements, but not as many as expected. It is certainly not non-Christian or non-biblical, in my estimation, but I had other ideas of what it would be.There'll be a fourth volume of The Auralia Thread, which Jeffrey is in the process of writing. I look forward to seeing where his imagination takes these characters!This book was provided by Waterbrook Press for review purposes.Reviewed by Andrea Schultz Ponderings by Andrea http://andrealschultz.blogspot.com