by S. D. Smith
Unconditional Recommendation: Two young brother and sister rabbits are forced to flee their home and find their place in the wider world of creatures at war and endeavoring to regain a better world.
Genre: Fantasy, Animal
This book was a sweet first offering that I’m certain kids who like Narnia, Redwall, or the Poppy books will enjoy. Set in the animal world with all animal characters, it was easy to get into the book, a bit of drudgery through the middle, and excitement at the end. Word of advice: pay attention to the storytelling within the story! The lore is important and adds depth and meaning to the book. Refreshingly, biblical values are upheld and there are distinct nods to biblical realities and storylines. Family ties are valuable and important, loyalty to the true king and his cause is encouraged, and the idea of finding where you play a role in the grander story is weaved throughout the book.
My place beside you, my blood for yours. Till the Green Ember rises, or the end of the world. Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world. Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend. Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?
Family is a major theme throughout the book, both with Heather and Picket valuing their family in the present and also in the connections and consequences of their family’s past. When new family members come on the scene, they immediately look out for one another. Picket is deeply affected by the separation from his parents and his baby brother and this motivates him to pursue training so that when another opportunity comes to help his family, he can be capable and useful.
Nods to biblical storylines include a great and good king betrayed by someone close to him, the promise of the rise of the next rightful king, and the hope for a beautiful future of freedom and peace. I especially love how much hope—a confident expectation of the good future—is emphasized to Heather and Picket. Just as the rabbits dream of the rightful king bringing peace so we as Christians hold a vision in our minds of Jesus Christ one day returning to earth and setting everything right in the new heavens and new earth.
Heather and Picket are good characters—good in that they have moral compasses and care about things that are good and right. Their youth is realistically portrayed, as is their sibling relationship which is a blend of love and irritation. They experience their circumstances with such innocence and hope. The audiobook helps the characters become more distinct in your mind because the reader gives them different voices and accents—which I always appreciate!
As I mentioned, it’s exciting in the beginning, a bit plodding in the middle, and exciting again at the end. From what I’ve read, the series gets better book by book.
It’s so minor that I gave this an unconditional recommendation but I’ll mention content anyway: There’s some peril, battle training, and death, but definitely PG. Nothing gory or dire, just matter of fact.
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