|The Land of Darkness, Gates of Heaven Series #3
By C. S. Lakin / Living Ink
Twelve-year-old Jadiel is forced by her evil stepmother to fetch the rejuvenating leaves from the Eternal Tree by next full moon or her father will be killed. On her journey, she encounters Callen, her uncle’s apprentice, a young man looking for a mysterious bridge. Together they chase after confusing clues, which lead them into danger and ultimately the treacherous Land of Darkness. In the end, they find more than they are looking for. The Land of Darkness is a fairy tale rich in biblical allegory and points to the bridge that links the mortal with the immortal life-one that can be seen only with eyes of faith.
The Interview: (if you would like to read my first interview with Susanne please visit A Map Across Time) The following is a partial interview Susanne did with Christianbook.com.
How did you get started writing Christian fiction?
I’ve been writing novels for over two decades but in 2005 decided to ask God what to write. I had written three mysteries for the general market (still unsold), but God put in my heart to write Christian fantasy, particularly fairy tales, and so I started in on The Wolf of Tebron. Since then I’ve written about eight more novels and have sold half. My fantasy series with AMG/Living Ink is a 7-book collection, and this book, The Land of Darkness, is their third installment.
You seem passionate about writing in the fantasy genre? What is it that intrigues you so much about fantasy?
I’ve always been a voracious fantasy/sci-fi reader. I grew up reading everything by Ray Bradbury, which inspired me to start writing my own short stories. I love creating worlds and I find fantasy is a great genre to be able to present many issues in a compelling way that allows the reader’s imagination to soar.
How did you choose the setting and the plot?
I draw all my ideas from traditional fairy tale elements. I read through tons of fairy tales and jot down ideas. For example, I’m working on book five now—The Crystal Scepter. I found a fairy tale in one of Andrew Lang’s collections called The Terrible Head, which is a takeoff of the Greek story of Perseus. So I’ve tweaked the story a bit but most of the basic elements are there. The Land of Darkness has a wicked stepmother and a magic mirror, and book four has a witch curse a baby at its naming and foretells destruction if she touches a spinning wheel. So you can see how some of these are familiar elements that I’ve borrowed to create brand new stories. The setting for the entire series is one big “world,” but each story is in a different locale—from forest to desert to seaside to farmland. I tried to envision a variety of locales although all the lands are tied together by the seven sacred sites, one featured in each book.
Do you have a favorite character in The Land of Darkness? Why?
It’s hard not to love the hateful evil stepmother Huldah because she really is pathetic. But I relate a lot to Callen, one of the main characters, because he struggles with his faith and is often impetuous and doubting, but he learns a lot and realizes his weaknesses and need for salvation by the end of the book.
What message would you like your readers to take from The Land of Darkness?
The message in the Land of Darkness is that God is the King and we have to surrender to him. That we cannot do anything on our own and need to recognize his sovereignty. It focuses on Jesus as the heir to the throne and the promised one to come. It’s my most “religious” book in a way, since it’s so focused on Jesus’s role as the suffering servant and the one to whom we must look to for salvation, to rescue us from this land of darkness we are all in and cannot find our way out on our own.
My Review: I will never forget the day I opened the package and saw the book, A Map Across Time my thought, “WHY did I agree to read a fairy tale!?!?” I am so thankful I did. Because once again this author allows me to escape in The Land of Darkness, a wonderful tale of good versus evil, complete with an evil step-mother and her ugly daughters. However, the author doesn’t give you a Cinderella story. There are very interesting twists to the story that weaves a unique and thoughtful tale. And this time I got the allegory!
The characters are wonderful, young Jadiel while still mourning her mother’s death is forced to deal with a wicked step-mother who wants her out of the way. Callen, the young apprentice for Jadiel’s uncle, is seeking a mysterious and beautiful bridge. Circumstances bring them together in their quest, where they face many unknowns. As the author mentioned in her interview, Callen is struggling with his faith and generally doesn’t look before he leaps. He represents so many of us in our struggle to trust. Once again there are quirky characters to aid the fairy tale element, Grork, the hoptoad being one of my favorites.
The imaginary that the author creates in her words is once again beautiful. You can envision the places Jadiel and Callen travel on their adventure. You can also sense the fear and awe that they experience.
This is a book for those who enjoy an escape from reality. I haven’t read a lot of fairy tales as an adult, but if you enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia then I think you would enjoy these books. I’m not sure if young children would be ready for a book like this. Parts might be scary to them. My youngest is almost 13 and nothing scares him. As a parent I would recommend reading the book first and determine for yourself whether your child would enjoy it.
The Giveaway: The author has been gracious enough to offer a copy of this book. To enter please fill out the form below. All your information is confidential and only the winner’s name and address would be passed on to the author. I’ll pick the winner December 21st at 9:00pm PST. Open to US residents 18 years of age or older.
I did receive the book from the publisher but am under no obligation to give anything but my honest opinion.