CSFF Blog Tour – Auralia’s Colors, Day 1

When I get an advance copy of a book, I tend to read and review as soon as possible. After all, I think the reason publishers send those books out is so that we can start talking about them and generate some buzz. If I sit on my review until … well, a scheduled blog tour, I’m not doing the author any favor and, in my view, am breaking trust with the publisher.

The dilemma I’m faced with then is, What do I say about the book during the blog tour? I’m referring specifically to Auralia’s Colors, Jeffrey Overstreet‘s debut fantasy novel for adults.

I suppose the place to start is to point readers to my review, posted at Speculative Faith last October. The short version of it is, I highly recommended the book. In fact I classified it as an important book, though I did not personally love it, primarily because I did not love any of the characters.

And still, I called it important. I think, my evaluation of the book today would not only reiterate that view but expand upon it. Why important?

For one thing, I think Auralia’s Colors is a departure from much Christian fantasy. It is not allegorical, though symbolic, and it is not overtly Christian, though containing redemptive elements.

In addition, Mr. Overstreet has given some attention to language, and the result is a work leaning toward literary fiction. The pace of the novel is markedly different from, say, Robin Parrish‘s superhero, high action fantasy Relentless. This fact also is important, in my view, because it expands the Christian fantasy genre.

No more can people pigeonhole Christian fantasy, though some still try. Recently in an interview with Christianity Today, VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer said

you couldn’t write Narnia today and have it accepted by the evangelical world because [of the magic] and because in its metaphor, it effectively has a non-Christian worldview.

Now, if we go to another fantasy world, we need to find Jesus there—literally. That is why the Harry Potter books are viewed to be straight from the pit. Even if Rowling says she’s enjoying [employing?] Christian themes, forget it. How do you write a Christian fantasy today? I have no idea. I don’t know that you can. I think we’ve killed it.

I think Auralia’s Colors is the perfect counterpoint to that argument. (For more on this discussion, see my Speculative Faith post on the topic.)

Certainly this novel does not have Jesus there, literally. And as I already pointed out, it is not allegorical, though certainly there are some apparent symbols, color being a primary one.

Auralia’s Colors does one other thing, which I think is especially significant. It is not a children’s book. I don’t know for certain how publisher WaterBrook is marketing the novel, but without a doubt, it is an adult book. Sure, young adults may read it, because clearly fantasy crosses age barriers like few other genres. But that fantasy must be written first and foremost for children is a myth (the old fashioned kind, not the myth of C. S. Lewis).

Here’s a novel, very different from Sharon Hinck‘s adult The Sword of Lyric series, very different from Karen Hancock‘s adult Guardian King Series, written with a sophistication and style that will appeal most to adults. It’s an important addition to Christian fantasy.

Take time to see what others on the blog tour are saying:

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