Novel Review


By Kersley Fitzgerald

Here's a totally biased, non-objective review of the book Prophet.

My friend's book is out and you should go buy it and read it. And then buy one for someone else. And then go buy another one for someone else.

Have I sufficiently displayed my bias such that you can take this review with the grain of salt shaker it deserves?

My friend is R.J. Larson. I know her through a writers' group we were a part of, overseen by Donita K. Paul. RJ brought excerpts from her YA fantasy novel, Prophet. It follows the adventures of Ela, a seventeen-year old girl from Parne — one of the last nations who still remembers and worships the Infinite. When her young sister, who suffers from progeria, enters the tomb of Parne's last prophet, Ela has no choice but to follow. Once there, the Infinite gives her another choice — live her life, marry that boy, and don't look back, or accept a commission as His prophet with a promise to die young.

Ela accepts, but not without fear. She takes her beloved sister with her as she leaves Parne to warn other nations and kingdoms about the evil in their hearts and the Infinite's call.

The character of Ela is by turns familiar, inspiring, and convicting. She's a prophet, but she still has doubt, fear, and a wicked temper. At the same time, she's quick to ask the Infinite for forgiveness and accept His grace. Her conversations with the Infinite ring true. She obeys orders, sometimes hesitantly, but fully, whether it's confronting a king, warning a band of kidnappers, or comforting a herd of bereft war horses. What drives her, beyond her love for the Infinite and her desire to be worthy of her calling, is a genuine concern for others. After a brief period of time in her training where the Infinite removes His presence from her, she desperately strives to ensure no one suffers that fate for eternity. She isn't successful, and deeply mourns those who refuse to listen.

Despite Mrs. Paul's success in the genre, "Christian fantasy" is a hard nut to crack. Usually only big names are taken on with the difficult label, so it's a testament to RJ's storytelling and her clear but non-preachy Gospel message that the book was even accepted. Historical romance rules the day, and we speculative-types have a hard time getting attention. The messages in the book, though, are so rich. For the young believer, Ela is a picture of what it means to follow God through to the end. How to listen to Him and obey even when it's really hard. For the unbeliever, it's a great picture of God's desperate love and His offer of saving grace.

RJ didn't mean to write a fantasy. She usually writes historical or non-fiction. But Ela got ahold of her and refused to let go. That's a sign of a really good story. Fortunately, she's finished the sequel and is currently plagued by ideas for the third.

You should buy those, too.

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Published 5-9-12