The Monster In The Hollows, CSFF Blog Tour Day 1 – Or Grey Fangs And The Church

The CSFF Blog Tour feature for the month of September is The Monster In The Hollows, Book Three of The Wingfeather Saga (Rabbit Room Press), a middle grade novel by Andrew Peterson. How interesting (and completely unplanned), considering that it is this same book that 39% of those voting in the “It’s All In The Opening” poll chose as the one that caught their interest and made them want to read more. I definitely concur with the majority on this one.

The Monster In The Hollows is the delightful continuation of the series, not as dark as book two and more focused than book one. In calling the book delightful and not as dark as the previous installment in The Wingfeather Saga, I am not saying this one is a lightweight.

As you can tell by the title of this post, I believe there are some serious implications for the Christian Church tucked away in this engaging children’s book.

No, Andrew was not writing an allegory, but there are clear parallels with the Green Hollows and the Church, so it should be evident that the story has something important to say to believers about … believers.

Parallels? In the early chapters, we learn that the Green Hollows toward which the Igiby family is sailing have successfully turned away every attempt of the Fangs and Gnag the Nameless to overrun them. In other words, the Hollows is a community dedicated to standing against evil, dedicated to keeping it at bay.

In fact, this dedication is the foundation for the central conflict since Kalmar, heir to the throne of the fallen Isle of Anniera, and one of the Igiby children seeking refuge in the Hollows, is a Grey Fang. Or had been.

Without giving any spoilers or any other details, I think the picture is clear. Of course, Andrew doesn’t name the Church. The Hollows could be any community dedicated to standing against evil, such as … such as … such as … Well, that’s it, isn’t it. Evil is something not many stand against.

I suppose my conclusion that Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs stand for evil requires some interpretation on my part, but again, their actions make this rather self-evident — kidnapping children is evil, turning humans into beasts is evil.

One of the questions that the book generates is of itself a reversal. We’re used to thinking about how we are to treat a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but what are we to do with a sheep in wolf’s clothing? Now plug that question into the church, and I think you can see why I think this book has something to say to Christians today.

There’s another larger issue, but to mention that would indeed be giving the ultimate spoiler (to put it bluntly, it would ruin the story). Suffice it to say, I believe The Monster In The Hollows is a gentle slap-down of the Church. Or maybe a caution, or a challenge.

I guess I’m a little defensive about the Church these days. So many claim to be a part of us and are not. And so many think the Church is to be something it is not. It’s hard for it not be get a little battered in the fray. On top of that, what usually happens in the process is that Jesus Christ’s name gets tainted.

The truth about the Church is that as the bride of Christ we are to be presented before God holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col. 1:22). But along with that truth is the reality that we are Romans 7 sinners, saved by grace but nevertheless struggling to do what we ought to do and eagerly doing what we ought not to do.

In that regard, perhaps a cautionary tale is just right.

Take some time this week to see what others on the blog tour have to say about The Monster In The Hollows:

A check mark links to a tour post.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

12 Comments

  1. Terrific insights, Becky! Y’know; the people in the Hollows play rough and for keeps.

    People in the church tend to play rough too! Often over matters that are superficial, while overlooking the deeper, more dangerous matters building beneath the surface.

    We could probably go even further, building parallels!

  2. Becky,

    I hadn’t thought about the parallels between the Green Hollows and the Church, but that really makes sense. We got a new puppy about a month ago, so all I could think about was canine behavior and comparing Kalmar to our dog. Hmmm… maybe I need to think deeper about what I read! :-)

    -robert

  3. (Oh … and I finally posted my review late-late yesterday…)

  4. I disagree slightly on one thing. Many institutions, even non-religious do see themselves as standing against evil–the evils of human trafficking or child abuse or slavery. So also in the book, the Hollows haven’t dedicated themselves to standing against a generic evil, but a specific evil coming against them–the armies of Gnag the Nameless.

    That said, I do see parallels between the Hollows and the Church, and I think the costly lessons learned by the people of the Hollows should make as believers consider our deeds. Thanks for sharing your interesting observations, Becky!

  5. Sounds interesting. I already knew I liked the first few paragraphs. It’s nice to hear the book has provoked some thought. And delightful is always good, I think. :)

  6. [...] You can see the entire list of participants and links to their posts at the end of my first article, The Monster In The Hollows, CSFF Blog Tour Day 1 – Or Grey Fangs And The Church. [...]

  7. I think what the Hollows was relaying was how we hold tenaciously to being safe that we can fail to take proactive actions to fight evil. instead, we let evil win by upholding walls and keeping people out, distrusting them, instead of fighting evil, forgiving people, creating friendships, and learning to properly discern what is evil and what is simply a figment of our imaginations and paranoia.

  8. I think the Hollow people’s sin was in not fighting proactively and allowing bad memories of the Fangs and of past wars from getting them involved.

  9. I think it’s interesting that you found this book less dark than North … I didn’t. I found this the most adult of the three, and so have thought of it as the darkest — although I suppose that if there was a scientific way to measure “dark,” North! might win after all :).

  10. Krysti, you said People in the church tend to play rough too! Often over matters that are superficial, while overlooking the deeper, more dangerous matters building beneath the surface. That’s what I was thinking. Too often we major on the externals and may neglect what is going on in the heart. I agree that we could draw additional parallels, but that central point stuck out to me.

    Hahah, Robert, I can see why you were fixated on the animal aspects of this story. Rightly so. They play a huge part. You wrote a good review, BTW. Very thorough, covering characters, plot, tidbits about the author. A super job.

    Becky

  11. Sarah, I knew I wasn’t developing the case for the Fangs symbolizing the evil of this world as well as I should. As I saw it, Gnag the Nameless (I wonder if he’d mind if I just called him Gnag from now on ;-) ) was the ruler of the world, all but the Hollows. As you pointed out, groups today might stand against an evil activity such as child slavery. But Gnag and the Fangs were not just one evil thing. They were the controlling force, so evil was the norm, the way of the world, institutionalized and enforced. All accept in the Hollows.

    It is that standing against the world which propagates evil that made me think the Hollows was akin to the Church.

    I wish I’d said more about it. I honestly thought I was stating something obvious and didn’t want to flog a spent horse.

    What’s crazy, in spite of your recent posts about the need for more stories with positive familial relationships, I looked past that aspect of the story. Now I think, Well, of course! :roll: Funny what will strike us and stick when we’re reading.

    Becky

  12. [...] Peterson doodled this picture of Leeli in the midst of writing The Monster In The HollowsFun aside, important meanings aside, is The Monster In The Hollows (Rabbit Room Press) a book you should buy? If you’ve [...]


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