by Wayne Thomas Batson
Conditional Recommendation: Aiden Thomas goes on an allegorical adventure in another world to fight against the forces of evil and serve the one true King.
Genre: Christian Allegory, Christian Fantasy
The beginning was slow, but it picked up and I loved the last 3/4 of the book—it has some emotional punch! This book is heavy on the allegory with little to no veiling of the Christian symmetry. I enjoyed the encouraging phrase repeated throughout the book, “never alone,” and found myself thinking the phrase as I went through my days. A cool fantasy characteristic is in the other world you know who serves the true King and who serves the enemy by the color of their eyes. I wish it were that easy to distinguish in real life! I recommend books because their good qualities are worth reading a whole book to mine up and enjoy, and this one provides plenty of opportunities for good discussions and good inspiration for biblical thinking.
This is a classic good-verses-evil set up and I personally never tire of it. In fact, I revel in it. That and the fantasy kept me in the book through its slow parts. I love books that remind me of the unseen reality—the spiritual reality, the reality as defined by the Bible—and inspire me to think in such a way that has the big picture and God in focus.
I could most accurately compare the quality of this book to either The Tower of Geburah by John White or the first book in the Vikings Quest series, Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson. Like those two books, the writing of The Door Within isn’t great. Don’t go comparing it to Narnia. But let’s keep in mind that this is the first book Wayne Thomas Batson ever published and middle grade readers are abundantly forgiving in the areas of writing craft. Young readers easily overlook flaws and allow the good qualities to bob to the surface and be the only thing they see. They need stories that can capture their imagination, characters they can root for, and hopefully something that touches their soul; all of which I think this book delivers.
There is an unseen world of good and evil where nightmares are fought and hope is reborn. Enter The Door Within. Aidan Thomas is miserable. Within two weeks, Aidan’s life is completely uprooted as his parents move the family across the country to care for his ailing grandfather. The quiet but imaginative Aidan is struggling with the prospect of attending a new school and fitting in with a new group of friends. Bur when he begins having nightmares and eerie events occur around his neighborhood, Aidan finds himself drawn to his grandfather’s basement—where he discovers three ancient scrolls and a mysterious invitation to another world. No longer confined to the realm of his imagination, Aidan embarks on an adventure where he discovers a long-fought war between good and evil. With the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance, Aidan faces Paragory, the eternal enemy with unfathomable power. Will Aidan be willing to risk everything and trust the unseen hand of the one true King?
Here’s the deal: Christian fiction will always have problems because it’s very difficult to find Biblically-accurate, doctrinally-sound, gospel-on-point content COMBINED with good storytelling. It’s a tall order in a sinful world. The gospel in this book is about faith, not works, so it’s got that going for it; however, it does present this concept of having “enough faith” and depicts a scene in the beginning of the book where Aiden is struggling to have faith to enter the door within. This makes it seem like faith is this feeling you produce and push out of yourself—in this case, to enter a fantasy world—rather than a simple response of trust in the face of evidence. There’s also mildly descriptive (for middle grade) battles, wounding, and death.
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