The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead

The Realms Thereunder is a Christian fantasy, and the first in a new series entitled, "The Ancient Earth Trilogy."  It is the story of two children, Daniel and Freya, who discover a hidden world of unique and interesting characters that dwell in tunnels within the earth.  When the two children wander off during a field trip, they quickly find themselves on the adventure of their lives.  Yet, the escapade is not entirely pleasant, for the lands in the center of the earth are at war.  Daniel sees the clash as an opportunity to do something important and to become a hero.  Freya wants nothing more than to return home to her normal life.  The book tells of their journey both in the present and the past.

When I chose to read this book for a review, I wasn't entirely sure if I would like it or not.  I enjoy a good fantasy (providing it doesn't get dark), so I felt it was worth a try.  What I discovered was that the plot and characters have a lot of potential.  Overall, Lawhead has a good storyline, but I feel he could have told the story in fewer words.  The story was burdened with excessive description and a lot of filler that didn't have any bearing on the story.  In addition, the constant bouncing back and forth from past to present and from character to character made it very confusing.

To be honest, if I hadn't agreed to read the book in its entirety, I would have put it down before I reached the halfway mark.  I kept waiting for it to get interesting, but it really didn't pull me in until the last few chapters.  This being the first book in a trilogy, the story really doesn't end.  That being said, I'm not sure how many loose ends the author intended to leave, but I felt that several things were truly odd, and I have yet to figure out where they actually fit into the story.

Lastly, for a Christian fantasy, I didn't see anything in the story that distinguished the book as Christian.  On the contrary, there were a few words and phrases that I felt were inappropriate for a book in the Christian market.

I'm not saying that I hated the book or that I would never read anything else by this author.  However, I prefer a clean book with lots of meat and less filler.  Good story.  Great potential.  But not a compelling read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”