Monday, February 17, 2014

Secret Confessions about Fantasy - One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul

Julie here for the CSFF Blog Tour!

This month's book is One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul. (I got a late start reading, so the review is coming Tuesday or Wednesday.)

I've read several books by Mrs. Paul (see my review of Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball). I enjoyed them all, in spite of two biases I have. Now, given this is the Christian Science Fiction and FANTASY tour, these biases are a deep dark secret...but I thought it was fair to share them, in light of the subject matter of Mrs. Paul's works.
  1. I'm not a fan of dragons. That doesn't mean I hate dragons or think they're inappropriate in Christian fiction. (And I can't see why ANYONE would think dragons shouldn't be featured in any form in Christian fiction, given Revelation.) I don't even mind them being portrayed as positive figures in Christian fiction. Wolves are generally portrayed as negative in the Bible, but I take that language figuratively. But personally, I just don't see any special appeal to dragons in particular.
  2. I'm even less of a fan of wizards. I read the first 5 books of the Harry Potter series and I enjoyed them, but I never really loved the idea of wizardry, even in a fantasy world. Characters with mutant powers? Love them. Characters casting spells? I can read it and I'm not horrified, but I don't love it. I agree with Rebecca LuElla Miller and others in there can be spellcasters in Christian fiction, but I still get a gut reaction against witches/wizards and sorcerers.

    (That said, in the modern world, we are at the point where many people can simply say a few words to their phone or television and it will give them directions to a restaurant, connect them with a person, or display moving, talking images--all of which is every bit as impressive as quite a bit of "wizardry" portrayed in books. Can you imagine showing that technology to people who lived a couple hundred years ago? I imagine you'd be called a wizard for sure.)
I probably got these biases against those fantasy mainstays from my mom, who doesn't like or "get" fantasy (she hasn't even read my novel). In high school, she also forbid me from reading a secular fantasy series, Piers Anthony's Xanth series, which my then-best friend adored. This was before the Internet was the resource it is now, so to the best of my knowledge my mom wasn't basing the ban on anything she knew about the particular series, except that it was "fantasy" and she thought "fantasy" was bad. (I eventually argued her into allowing me to read them, but afterwards I never read a single one; I just didn't like the idea of a blanket ban on reading a series. Though the more I hear about Xanth, the more I'm glad I never read it.)

I know from reading several other books by Mrs. Paul that her wizards tend to be using science/etc. and of course her dragons aren't evil. In some ways, she reminds me of C.S. Lewis, taking mythology and redeeming it for Christ.

(One Realm Beyond also features a large group of characters in a line, each touching the person ahead of them, and going through a portal, just like in Prince Caspian from Lewis' Narnia series. That was either a homage or else an unbelievable coincidence.)

Do you have any speculative mainstays that you're biased against?

Here are the other blog tour participants!

Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Mike Coville
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Rebekah Gyger
Janeen Ippolito
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Melanie @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Donita K. Paul
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Jojo Sutis
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Jill Williamson
Deborah Wilson

 *In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book.


  1. Good morning! Thank you for being part of the tour. I have a bias against alphabet soup names. When a tale has a roster of unpronounceable names, I soon get confused. Did Chiczwuqr'tsserp just chase Kylrpteenzzelef off the cliff, or was that someone else? This prejudice has nothing to do with my love of Christ. I think I am basically protecting my brain from overload.

    1. Oh, I don't like long/gibberish-y names either! "Alphabet soup names" is a great term for that. Or alphabet soup names plus superfluous apostrophes. :)

      Honored to have you stop by; thank you!

  2. Good point, Donita. Alphabet soup names can be confusing -- and even harder to proofread!

    I don't have a bias against fantasy, but I do have a bias against graphic violence. I expect violence in battle but I don't need the graphic details. Ditto I prefer romance over sex -- and not every book has to have the hero and heroine getting into a relationship!

    Really enjoyed this book (Bixby is my favorite character!) and can't wait til the next book.

    1. Violence and sexual content can occur in almost any book, though; not just speculative. I wouldn't call aversion to either of those a "confessable" or negative thing either way!

      Thank you for stopping by! Bixby was one of my favorites too.

  3. Ugghhh, Alphabet Soup Names reminds me of k-5 when some kids put every letter ever created in-between the first and last letter of my name and it only needed 4.
    My dad loved Fantasy and so do I but I discovered it on my own when I picked up A Wrinkle in Time.

    1. Narnia was my gateway, but A Wrinkle in Time was a favorite too. Though almost every book I've loved is speculative in some way or another (even Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of least, I HOPE mice and rats aren't that sentient...).

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Julie, my bias would be against vampires. I know, I know, they are as pretend as Harry Potter's wizardry. But I just don't like them. Never have.

    I agree with Carol. Love Bixby the most. In fact, I hope to write a little about her tomorrow.


    1. Yeah, I'm not a fan of vampires either! Though I'm not sure how much of that is just Twilight backlash. I don't think I've ever actually read a vampire story, so I don't know.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I love Bixby as well! Would love to have her clothes. How convenient would that be? I do enjoy Mrs. Paul's writing. I think I've read all of her children's books, and most of her chapter books.

    1. Bixby appears to have unlimited funds AND unlimited storage space. It's almost a wonder she doesn't have MORE stuff!

  6. I don't think I have a bias about any types of creatures, just when they're cliche, like elves or orcs that are just like Tolkien's. Donita's dragons are always unique, and I love that about them.

    1. Right; I'd heard publishers had a bias against elves in particular; maybe that's why! (And I agree; I like THESE dragons for sure. I'm just not one of those people who sees the word "dragon" and gets excited. "Portal," on the other hand...)


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