(Ancient Earth Trilogy, Book 1)
by Ross Lawhead
Release Date: September 2011
A homeless man is stalked by a pale, wraithlike creature with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth. Maimed animals and a host of suicides cluster around a mountain in Scotland. And deep beneath the cobbled streets of Oxford, a malicious hoard besieges a hidden city.
Freya Reynolds is a university student with a touch of OCD and an obsession with myth and folklore. Daniel Tully is living rough on the streets of Oxford, waging a secret war against an enemy only he can identify. Years ago, they found themselves in a world few know is real. They have since gone their separate ways and tried to put that adventure behind them.
But the mythical world is now bleeding into our reality-a dark spiritual evil that is manifesting itself in forgotten corners of the British Isles. Alex Simpson is a Scottish police officer who specializes in hunting mythical creatures. Together, they must confront the past, the present, and points beyond to defeat the ultimate threat to humanity.
Nothing they’ve seen so far prepares them for what awaits . . . in The Realms Thereunder.
Well… I had high hopes for Ross Lawhead’s work. Maybe that’s not fair—how’d you like to spend your whole life being compared to your father?—but at least I’m being honest. I adore most of Stephen Lawhead’s work, and I think he’s a brilliant, highly imaginative writer. Did I happen to transfer some of these expectations to his son’s work? Yes. I did.
And it’s not that The Realms Thereunder is a bad book. It’s not. At no point did I say “I don’t like this” or “I want to stop reading”… but on the other hand, at no point did I say “I can’t put this down” or “what a unique concept”. Rather, I felt I was reading a mediocre debut novel from a new fantasy author.
I also have the sneaking suspicion that it might be an allegory. Please, for the love of all things literary, can we have ONE Christian fantasy novel that ISN’T an allegory?!?! PLEASE?!?! (Actually, I have heard there is one, and I plan to read it soon… *hint hint*… I’ll keep you posted.) I’m going to be very disappointed if I read the next book in the series and find out that it is allegory.
Not that there’s anything wrong with allegory, it’s just that… it’s been done before. And done VERY WELL by people like C.S. Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, and John White. It’s hard to live up to that or do so much better that you won’t get buried under their greatness.
Now, I realize this doesn’t tell you a whole lot about the novel, but let’s face it, you don’t read book reviews for full plot run-downs or potential spoilers, right? I will say this, though—I wasn’t sure, and still aren’t, who Lawhead’s target audience is for this series. The main characters are adults when we meet them, but the vast majority of this installment is spent in childhood flashbacks… and the writing style was reminiscent of YA novels. So, I’m not entirely sure where he’s going with this.
But that’s okay. I’ll give the next book a shot… and keep my fingers crossed that it isn’t, in fact, an allegory series.
PS: Also? There’s a total “what the… Voldemort?!?” moment about halfway through the book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. That kinda ticked me off… I’m actually a little surprised it made it into the book. You’ll know what it is when you read it.
About the Author
Ross Lawhead comes from a literary household and has written since he could hold a crayon. He has collaborated with his father on a trilogy of speculative fiction, written and illustrated a graphic novel, and published two volumes of "awful" poetry in a series called "The Colour Papers." He lives in Oxford and this is his first full-length novel. For more on Ross’ musings on comics, movies, books and culture, visit www.rosslawhead.com/blog/
Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.