CSFF Blog Tour – Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter, Day 1

How fun to at last be back on track with CSFF. Our feature this week is R. J. Anderson‘s Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter, a middle grade fantasy published by HarperCollins.

In my opinion, this book is Christian fantasy at its best. Christian fantasy? Published by a general market press?

Why not? Certainly all kinds of other worldviews are represented in books put out by general market publishers. A Christian worldview, therefore, should not be excluded.

My question, however, is this: why don’t houses affiliated with the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association (ECPA) produce more books like Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter? To be fair, I think a few have moved in this direction—in particular WaterBrook. Kudos to them.

But why aren’t more ECPA houses on board? I have some ideas. One might be the existence (really, the lack thereof) of magic in this story. I recently read an interesting article on the topic of magic in Christian fantasy. Here’s the key portion I want to address:

There are really only two options when dealing with the issue of magic: either magic is a craft that can be learned and mastered by any person who applies themselves, much like any skill in the natural world, or it is something that must be innate within a being, something one is born with.

The author goes on to say that J. R. R. Tolkien used the latter. While I would add a third way of dealing with magic—creating make-believe power, dissimilar to real magic sourced in evil and to real supernatural power sourced in God—I believe Anderson has gone the Tolkien route. Her characters, for the most part, are faeries, who should have magic innately.

I’ll say more about them in particular when I do my review. For now, suffice it to say that I believe too many Christians are losing the power to discern between what is a real concern and what is superficial. In saying this, I recognize myself.

Years ago, I pulled aside a student of mine for a lecture about a novel she was reading that had the word “witch” in the title. Never mind that I had not read the book, didn’t have a clue if the story was in any way promoting anything evil or not. Some lessons are costly, and that one was to me, but also valuable.

It was reinforced some years later when I wanted to add a novel to the curriculum (in a different school) that used alchemy (unsuccessfully) as a key plot point—only to have the powers that be say no, such a book was unsuitable.

But back to the topic—why aren’t more books like Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter coming out of the ECPA? I’d suggest a second reason: the Christian worldview is not overt. Although someone unfamiliar with Christianity can’t miss the central themes, they won’t necessarily identify them as Christian.

In my opinion, the best fantasy coming out of ECPA houses takes this same approach. The stories are accessible by anyone and thoroughly enjoyable. There is no need to preach because the key action in the climax does the heavy lifting, much the way Aslan dying in Edmond’s place did in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Please don’t misunderstand. I think there is a place on bookshelves for stories that deal with Christianity in an overt way. But ones that stir our hearts because of love and self-sacrifice are important, too.

Take some time this week to see what others participating on the tour have to say:

A check mark links to a tour post. (Special thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of the book).

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13 Comments

  1. Ample discussion fodder here, which is the great thing about your posts. It always impresses me when a Christian author focuses not so much on saying that what we believe is true and important, but instead shows us why it’s true and important in practice.

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  2. Great post. I look forward to what else you have to say.

    I loved the book! I thought it was pretty Christian, myself. Just plain good fiction woven in such a way that it makes us long for a Savior who will sacrifice himself for us.

    I’ve put a post up today, btw…I was late. Busy days. UGH. 🙂

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  3. Becky, Great food for thought here!

    I also noticed you’ve changed the notice about who has provided the book/s. I take it we don’t have to do the other disclaimer instead?

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  4. […] in the CSFF Tour for R. J. Anderson’s Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter, see yesterday’s Day 1 […]

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  5. Hi, Fred, thanks for stopping by. I think there’s a lot to discuss stemming from this book—for writers, certainly, but for readers, too.

    Sally, that’s exactly what I thought.

    And thanks, Krysti for your feedback. As to the disclaimer, each blogger can write it as they please. I provide one for CSFF’ers to make it easy—just copy and paste. But then I was too lazy to do that and just wrote up a new one! 😆

    Becky

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  6. […] Becky Miller […]

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  7. Thanks for all the hard work you put into making this tour happen, Becky, and for your own amazing posts — so much food for thought here, even for me. I always enjoy your essays and feel it an honor to have my own work so thoughtfully considered and discussed. Having my book featured in the CSFF Blog Tour has been a real blessing to me at a time when it was much needed, and a really positive experience overall. Much appreciated.

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  8. Becky, interesting point of view you have there. I too at times have found myself dis liking a book because of its title, or something that I ASSUME the book deals with without knowing what it is about or what point they are trying to portray. While at times I think it is necessary to “judge a book by its cover”, there are other times that we need to make sure that we are NOT doing that too. With people it is alot easier. The bible says “By their fruits you will know them”…the fruits of books are only made evident by whats written between the front and the back of the book. Thanks for making me think!!! 🙂

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  9. R. J., it really was fun to host your tour. I was so delighted to find how many of the participants genuinely loved Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter. I’m looking forward to diving into the next one! 😀

    Becky

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  10. Becky, thanks for stopping by and for interacting with these ideas. It does my blogger-heart good to hear you say this article made you think. I so appreciate you giving your feedback.

    (The other) Becky

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  11. […] Book Blog Tour feature for June, is R. J. Anderson‘s second novel. I had the privilege of reviewing the first, Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter back in March, which is why I jumped on the opportunity to […]

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  12. […] More. Browse the inside (first five chapters, and more) Read CSFF Blog Tour articles – see complete list of links Read a review at Harmony Book Reviews and Becky’s […]

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  13. […] More. Browse the inside (first five chapters, and more) Read CSFF Blog Tour articles – see complete list of links Read a review at Harmony Book Reviews and Becky’s […]

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