Book Review: The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 6, 2011

Eight years ago, Daniel Tulley and Freya Reynolds disappeared while on a class field trip. When they reappear over two months later, they hide the truth about what really happened and attempt to move on with their lives. The secret of their visit to an underground city that has been protecting the world from evil seems destined to remain in the past until unseen forces appear that will make them confront their past and bring them to the realization that they must return to the underground city and rejoin the fight against evil.

Lawhead has written a story that is sweeping in scope, with a carefully crafted narrative full of adventure and suspense. I found the mix of the present with ancient mythology and fantastical creatures to be fascinating, and the characters he has created in Daniel and Freya are ones I look forward to revisiting in future installments in the series. However, while I enjoyed reading the book overall, I did find the flow to be somewhat interrupted in the way that the author switched back and forth between past scenes of what Daniel and Freye experienced as teenagers with their current situations. In my opinion, for what it is worth, I think I would have been more easily swept up into the story if perhaps the past had been written as one flowing narrative, followed by the present. However, I'm sure others may disagree with me, and I do appreciate what the author was trying to achieve by slowly revealing more and more to the reader until the unexpected twist comes near the end.

Readers who enjoy reading fantasy novels will no doubt enjoy this entertaining read. While the book is from a Christian publisher, it does not have overt themes of faith, but instead provides a classic battle between good versus evil, with themes of loyalty and having courage in the face of danger. Patience will be required as the ending will leave you longing to find out how the story continues in book 2!

I give this book a solid recommendation, and award it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.