Friday, March 08, 2013

McGrath's Children's Series Disappoints

Darkness Shall Fall, Alister McGrath
The Aedyn Chronicles, Book Three
(Zondervan, 2011), pb., 214 pp.
Ages 10-15

I have previously listed the first book in this series as one of our “Best Reads” in 2011.  In that post I noted that the second book in the series had been a disappointment. This third book was better than the second, but not as good as the first. It was another disappointment.

In this book Peter, Julia & Louisa complete their task of helping of protect the people of Aedyn and finally make it home. There is some good adventure as they hide from the vicious Gulnog and try to survive while looking for a way to defeat the Shadow. They await the arrival of help from the Lord of Hosts and are duped by an evil one who claimed to be a messenger from the Lord of Hosts. In the end deliverance comes from an unlikely source, and back in our world their fractured family is made whole.

What could be wrong with a story like that? First, let me hasten to say there are good things in the book to notice and enjoy. We had a good time reading portions of it. However, in order to enjoy it together I had to do some careful editing on the fly since the younger children were listening. Some scenes were particularly gory or intense. The book was not as sophisticated as what my older boys would typically enjoy, but it was more brutal than what I want for my younger ones. The worst example of this was the description of the family at the end of the book. The description of this dysfunctional family and the brutal beating the father gives his son was disturbing to me. I know these things happen and can deal with reading reports of such, but, this is not what I want in a book for my children.

For example, at the prospect of the father beating the older son, the younger son “rubbed his hands together greedily” and after the first strike the younger son claps and says, “Look Mother! He drew blood with only one strike! Hit him again, father!” The Stepmother is also described as eagerly anticipating the beating. Repentance and reconciliation does come, but this perverse portrait was not what we needed or desired.

So, we cannot recommend this book to you. Its positive aspects are outweighed by the negative and the overall story is only fair. There are plenty of other compelling stories to choose from.


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