For one, it’s a fantasy. I love being transported to an imaginative world. There’s something so mysterious and secretive about a character discovering a way into a whole other realm. It reminds me of books I loved as a kid by Walter Farley. No, not the Black Stallion books, though I loved those, too. I’m referring to the Island Stallion books he wrote. The protagonist discovered behind a waterfall on an isolated island, a hidden valley were a herd of wild horses ran free, led by a golden stallion–the horse of the series title.
Of course Narnia accomplishes this same revelation of the secret to a greater degree. Through a wardrobe resides a world of talking animals and satyrs and fauns and dwarfs. What a find!
Another reason I enjoyed the book (I finished it yesterday) was because of the adventure. Lots happened. Danger lurked here and there. The character had to act in bold, daring ways, not always sure who to trust or how to proceed. It felt very much like real life–with an extra dose of danger.
It also wasn’t predictable. I guessed some elements correctly, but at other times I was completely surprised. There were some huge reveals, some great twists. I read to find out what would happen next, pushed by the tension woven into the fabric of each scene.
I also liked the book because I liked the main character. In fact, I “liked” a good number of the minor characters, too, in the sense that they were effective and believable. But the main character, I really liked. I was in his corner and I cared about what happened to him. I wanted him to make good decisions. I wanted him to succeed. I hoped the best for him and worried when he put his faith in the wrong place or acted hastily.
Ultimately, though, I liked the book because I thought it was truthful. It showed the way the world works spiritually, even as it dealt with some of the hard issues connected to the way the world works physically. Was it preachy? In a couple places. Was it allegorical? In some parts. But those things didn’t ruin the story for me. They might have for someone who doesn’t have a Christian worldview, however.
Realizing this makes me wonder whether the books we love agree with the way we see the world. Some have said that we read fiction, not to learn something new but to be reinforced in what we already believe.
Perhaps so. But I also think the best books, the ones I love, show me something in a new way. So I may in fact agree with the world view, but I understand my own beliefs better because of the story. I know that’s true for Narnia.
I also think books that show me how other people view the world are ones I appreciate. Gone with the Wind was that type of book. So was The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, Émile Zola’s Germinal, Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and any number of others.
So what was this book I was reading? If you’re a regularly here at Spec Faith you know the author. I’m referring to none other than our newest columnist, Christopher Miller.
He and his brother Allan authored the young adult Hunter Brown series put out by Warner Press. I had read the first book, Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow three years ago as part of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour. Some time later I read book two, Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire. Then a couple weeks ago, I saw book three Hunter Brown and the Eye of Ends in my church library. This was the book I was discussing with my friend.
What about you? What books have you been reading that you’d tell your book friend about? Why did you enjoy them?