Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hafren, by Craig Dressler

When Hafren is invaded, two youths, Shuh and Ufh, set off to warn the different people in different areas of the land.  Along the way, the encounter various forms of evil, and learn how to overcome these evils.  It is a journey, not only through their own land, but into themselves as well.  Faith and friendship help get them succeed in their mission.

From the moment I started reading this short tale, I could not help but be reminded of the Lord of the Rings. The story, to me, has a very similar feel to it.  It is clearly a fantasy tale, involving friends, focusing around an important journey.  Not a lot of time is spent on exposition, instead starting the story literally in the middle of an action scene.  For adult readers, this might seem abrupt, and in a longer novel I think this would be an important aspect of the story to develop.  However, for younger readers, this might not seem as important.  We never really learn a lot about Shuh and Ufh as characters, with the story instead focusing on the journey. Again, in a longer novel, I think further character development would be necessary, but for the purposes of this story, it seems to be a non issue.

The book is marketed as Christian Fantasy Fiction, so it was not surprising to me that there was heavy emphasis on God and Jesus.  What I did find unusual is that in a book where everything else was fantasy, the Christian aspect was quite literal, spelling out the literal gospel message.  I personally think this would have worked better as an allegory, as we traditionally see in fantasy books, like the aforementioned Lord of the Rings, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  It just seemed a little odd that a fictional world, totally unrelated to reality, would worship the literal Christian God.  

All in all, the story is a good example of the battle between good and evil.  It would be most appropriate for middle grades readers, due to its short length.  Also, the lack of detailed exposition and character development would leave many adult readers frustrated and unable to fully engage in what is, at its heart, a very good story.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.





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