Book Review – “Venom and Song” by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christoper Hopper

Elves, Gnomes, Drefids, and lots of Spiders; the things that all “good” fantasy books should have in them. If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia then this book may be something that you would enjoy. I’m a big fan of the previous and though the storyline doesn’t come close to reaching the caliber of Tolkien and Lewis, Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper did a great job of holding my attention, which is something that is difficult for any novel to do. Though I typically only review non-fiction books of a theological nature, the tile of the book caught my attention, so I thought that I would give it a whirl, and I wasn’t disappointed. 

When I got the book I discovered, much to my frustration that it was the second in a series. (The Berinfell Prophecies) Having not read the first one, I was at a great disadvantage when jumping into the book. Though I didn’t have the good fortune of the information and story line from the first book, I was able to get the primary gist of what this series was doing and where the storyline was going, this was accomplished in no small part by the character list that was provided at the beginning of the book. (Kudos to whoever suggested that one!)

The book was the typical morality tale of “good vs. evil,” and though this genre has been covered extensively in novels over the years, this book does a good job of presenting it on an elementary level. The book opens with the Seven teenage Lords (13 yrs. Old) arriving on Allyra through a portal from Earth. The events that they experience are what can only be described as “life-changing,” and we as the readers get a front seat view as they prepare themselves and eventually bring war against the Spider King, the despot of the story, who is bent of destroying the peaceful elves that also inhabit the planet Allyra.     

For me the book was an enjoyable read, and as with many books of this genre it got better as it progressed. The first chapters were a little slow off the launch pad, but by the time I got to the end of the book I was really getting into it (which is hard for me to do) I appreciated how well crafted the story was and how seamlessly it flowed from page to page. It was extremely easy to follow. (now if only some of those theological books I’m always reading were able to do the same thing) I also appreciated how the authors effectively dealt with the issue of strengths and weaknesses of the characters, on both an individual basis, and as a group working together for a common cause, which is something that is of vital importance to young people today. It isn’t hard to see the “spiritual” aspect in this book, for its present from beginning to end, yet not in some direct, hard hitting theological fashion. This isn’t a book that makes you feel like you’re sitting back listening to some sermon, rather the reader gets to see how the characters learn to have faith in something greater than themselves.    

Fantasy is and can be a dangerous genre for one to read, especially when it’s written from a Christian perspective. There is appropriate fantasy and inappropriate fantasy, and it takes a discerning reader to tell the difference. I can recommend this book with few reservations, but as with any from this genre, it should be read by the parents first, for they are and should be the judge of its appropriateness.   

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their “book review bloggers program.” I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions and views expressed here 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.”

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About Jim

I'm currently the Communications Director for Missouri Operation for Vigorous Evangelism [MOVE] A Church planting ministry located in Jefferson City, MO. I believe that the church is the primary means through which God works in a community to love and redeem it. Here at MOVE we’re discovering new ways to be used for this purpose as God leads us and lights His path for us. As God forms this organization and shapes it for a new kind of world I want to be right in the middle of what He’s doing, traveling on this road of a disciple’s journey.

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