Wayne Thomas Batson was kind enough to send me a copy of The Door Within, the first book in his The Door Within fantasy trilogy. I found the blue/purple color of the text a bit hard to read, and it took me a little while to get into the book. But once I got into it, I read the rest in about a day, and ceased to notice the text color.
The Door Within is about Aidan, a high school boy who is a bit of misfit. Aidan starts out frustrated because his family has just moved to Colorado, far away from his only friend, to care for his elderly grandfather, Grampin. Aidan soon learns, however, that there's more to Grampin, and the world, than meets the eye.
Strange scrolls appear out of nowhere in the basement, and Grampin encourages Aidan to believe that the scrolls are real and magical. He finds himself drawn into a story of knights and kings, bravery and betrayal. When Aidan, despite disparagement from his father, finally believes that the world in the scrolls is real, he finds himself able to walk through "The Door Within", into the other world.
In this alternate universe, Aidan encounters a strange race of people called the Glimpses, who live in the Kingdom of Alleble. The Glimpses there are ruled by King Eliam, whose glory is so pure that Aidan can't even look upon him without being temporarily blinded. It turns out that King Eliam has called Aidan to help his people in a battle against an evil rival, Paragor. In short order, Aidan finds himself training to be a knight, learning to be part of a team, setting off on a series of adventures, and finding the strength within himself.
The Door Within offers plenty of adventure to keep things moving, as well as several interesting fantastical creatures (dragons, unicorns, cute little moonrascals, and a very cool multi-legged serpent). I especially liked the character of Gwenne, a beautiful young Glimpse who befriends Aidan and has a good sense of humor. The brave Captain Valithor is also touching yet humorous, prone to creative epithets like "Halt, thou reeking, fly-bitten bootlickers!". As for Aidan, he starts out a bit whiny, but is transformed by his experiences into someone well worth knowing.
I personally found the Christian overtones to be a bit strong in this book, because that's not so much my thing (note the name of the person who betrays Aidan and his friends and the sacrifice of the King for his people as two of many examples). But I think that for people who are fans of Christian fantasy, perhaps those who have finished the C. S. Lewis books, and want something else in the same genre, these books will be a huge hit. And I think, as with the Narnia books, that these Christian overtones may go right over kids' heads, manifesting instead as strong positive messages about loyalty, trust, and believing in yourself. I think that the story will keep kids reading, especially young fantasy fans.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.