“Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragon can be killed.” —G. K. Chesterton
Review and Thoughts:
I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of fantasy. With the exception of the more classic fantasies like the “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Lord of the Rings”, and “The Harry Potter Series”, I generally steer clear of the imaginary worlds invented in others’ heads. I have also found that more modern fantasies reduce themselves to including a lot of sex and violence to make the story more captivating. (“Game of Thrones” anyone?) I am happy to say, that when I read “The Land’s Whisper” I was pleasantly surprised.
The story involves a man named Darse and his “adopted” son, Brenol, and follows their adventure in the land of Massada. This fantasy world has much beauty to it and the descriptions by the author are incredibly vivid. The two embark on a journey to rescue a princess who has been missing for years. Brenol is gifted with the ability to speak to the land and the desire to keep this communication is much like a drug. It calls to him and he often wishes to keep the connection, however he knows that when he finds the princess, this connection will be gone. This creates an underlying dilemma for the young boy throughout their adventure.
Without giving too much away, Darse and Brenol struggle through many dangers to find the princess and deliver her from a disgusting evil that has kept many captive. The two rely on the help of many natives of the different lands of Massada who are fascinating and again, well described by the author.
I found that the beginning of the novel was slow to draw me in, but this exposition was necessary to the novel and I know will be important for the rest of the trilogy. Once I got past the beginning, I found the story kept my interest the rest of the time. By the time I got to the end I just had to know what was going to happen to these two characters I had grown to love.
Here are some things I loved about the novel:
- The vocabulary is higher level and will challenge readers and the descriptions are intense which will captivate many readers.
- Because Ms. Kennedy is a Christian writer, her story avoids graphic sex and scenes of exaggerated violence. Her story has intense moments and is recommended for older readers, but it avoids exaggerating these scenes for shock value.
- The story demonstrates a strong moral man and the development of a young boy who struggles with internal demons who then grows into a man of character and determination. Again, this is refreshing to be given strong, moral male characters as leads and it shows young boys that they can become men despite the struggles they may be dealing with.
- Christian imagery permeates the story. There are many descriptions of “the spirit” who is pure evil and is reminiscent of the devil and his ways. There are “healing waters” for Darse and mentioned for others. It is mentioned that “forgiveness is a sign of freedom” and there are countless other examples of this type of writing throughout the story.
- The good characters say “It has been bountiful” when they say good-bye to each other. They recognize that everyone has something to give and share with everyone, and we can all learn from each other.
I recommend the book, especially for those who enjoy fantasy literature. I think Ms. Kennedy has a bright future and I am excited to see what the rest of the trilogy holds.
I was given a copy of the novel by the author and I promised an honest review in return.
Possible Issues (Potential Spoilers)
- Darse is captured by a man they call “Fingers”. The man steels his memories and Darse says he feels as though his mind was raped. The scenes are intense as Darse’s leg is broken and the bone is sticking out and Bren finds a cabin of decapitated heads.
- The princess, Colette, is sexually abused by her captor. Though the scenes are not descriptive or graphic, the suggestion is there.
- Brenol must fight the desire to remain a nurest and keep his connection in order to save the princess. What are some temptations you have to deal with in order to stay on task with your goals?
- Who do you think is really behind the evil occurring in Massada?
- This is an excellent article from Catholic Education Resource Center about the importance of teaching fantasy and fairy tales to our children. “Awakening the Moral Imagination: Teaching Virtues Through Fairy Tales”
- Read the following book review and discussion from The Catholic Dormitory about fantasy literature and how it relates to Catholicism. “Catholicism and Fantasy”
- Listen to this podcast from Carolyn Leiloglou (from House Full of Bookworms) talk about fantasy for Christian parents. (Posted by Sarah Mackenzie at Amongst Lovely Things.)
General Teaching Resources
- Write a descriptive poem about the land of Massada.
- Write a character sketch for Brenol using the 5 points of characterization.
- What other characters think about them
- Use the vocabulary list below to define words you may not be familiar with from the book.
- Check out other authors who delve into the fantasy/science fiction genre by completing a web quest found here.
- Review the elements of fantasy by using this lesson plan from Read/Write/Think. (This can be adapted for higher levels.)