Tuesday, February 18, 2014

One Realm Beyond

Title: One Realm Beyond

Series: Realm Walkers #1


Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: Craft—4, Content—4,
Overall—3.9 out of 5 stars


Excerpt from “Raising a Ruckus,” Chapter 1 of One Realm Beyond:

Cantor straddled the thick tree limb suspended less than three feet over his favorite fishing hole. He’d fished from this spot for more than eighteen years, from the time he could barely straddle the fat limb ’til now, when the tips of his sandals almost brushed the surface of the clear, cold water. He watched the small fish circling below him, waiting for the big one just as he had been taught. His fishing mentor, Odem, probably took him fishing here before he was out of diapers. Cantor wouldn’t want to share the limb now. Though the tree had grown with him over the years, he didn’t think the branch would hold the weight of two grown men. He wasn’t eager for a bath in the frigid water from the mountain’s runoff.

Still and patient, Cantor waited for the large carp he called Bully to rise and push the other fish out of the way. A sprinkle of thumb-sized chunks of bread floated on the water. One of the smaller guppies darted off to the side, and a huge, open mouth appeared under the surface. The fish snapped up a sodden crust.

Cantor hurled the stone in his hand.

A teenage boy sets out to find a dragon companion—the first step in becoming an official walker between realms—and gets more than he bargained for.

 
Craft: With One Realm Beyond, Donita K. Paul has delivered another fun, low-key adventure for teenage fantasy readers.

One Realm Beyond introduces us to a new fantasy world, separate from Ms. Paul’s other books. However, the story is still marked by the same quirky, off-beat characters and humorous twists found in all of Ms. Paul’s books.

At the same time, this book also exhibited stronger plotting. No, it’s still not a suspenseful page-turner. I did not expect—or necessarily want—it to be. But the storyline gels cohesively, moving you forward at a steady pace.

Perhaps due to this, the book has a slightly darker undercurrent. This causes some of the whimsy to be lost, which I have loved in earlier books. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad change, but it is definitely different.

Also the end didn’t resolve as well as I like. While I know One Realm Beyond is only the first book, it is also possible to finish a story with a cohesive completion while leaving the ending wide-open for the next book in the series. Instead, this novel feels like it merely stops.

But this is a small defect—if it can be called a defect at all—and it is one which will be solved somewhat with later books.

Content: Like the craft, One Realm Beyond presents typical content for a Donita K. Paul book. There’s no sexuality, and even the romance thread is very low-keyed at this point. I wasn’t aware of any explicit swearing or other language concerns. Violence does exist, but most of it occurs off the page with only broad-stroke results shown.

Magical elements, expectedly, are very strong again. The supernatural is primarily attributed to natural giftings, non-human characters, or objects with special powers, which are handled much like our science’s technology. The way this is handled doesn’t seem to be a problem, but those with a high sensitivity to the supernatural should exercise care when considering whether to read this book.

The spiritual threads rely heavily on clear allegorical parallels to the real world. As a result it is not uncommon for the characters to talk about God, His precepts, and what it means to serve Him. The concepts of allegiance to God and learning to appreciate others in all their strangeness are two threads running through this book.

 
Summary: One Realm Beyond is a fun adventure with quirky characters. Some caution recommended for those with high sensitivity toward magic and the supernatural, but otherwise a good read for preteens to adults.

Rating: Craft—4, Content—4, Overall—3.9 out of 5 stars

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

 Other participants in this Christian Science-Fiction & Fanatasy Tour:
 
Julie Bihn Keanan Brand Beckie Burnham
Mike Coville Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt Carol Gehringer
Rebekah Gyger Janeen Ippolito Jason Joyner
Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Melanie @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rebecca LuElla Miller Joan Nienhuis Nissa
Donita K. Paul Audrey Sauble James Somers
Jojo Sutis Jessica Thomas Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger Jill Williamson Deborah Wilson