Fantasy novels may not be my usual reading, but I really enjoyed escaping into this new world, engaging with the young heroine and hero. The book is ideal for readers aged 8 or 9 and above. Pace is so important to keep all readers engaged, and this one races along, the reader quickly getting drawn in to the adventures of the two main protagonists.
There are short chapters, which I really appreciate, and it is clearly written with the target audience in mind. There is plenty of lovely description, fast pace and intrigue to keep the pages turning. I have a feeling that there will be plenty of young readers waking up a bit late, bleary eyed, having read well into the night!
Set in a mystical world of magic, dragons, special powers and powerful god-like stars, who benevolently (mostly) rule over the lands, it is easy to become immersed into the imagined world. There is plenty of historical background to build the picture of this kingdom, its myths and legends.
The dual storyline, following the female and male characters, accompanies them on a journey of intrigue, danger and discovery. When the two stories then collide, overlapping in their quests to serve their people, we see the dilemmas they face, with their loyalties challenged. They have a clear sense of right and wrong, being good role models, brave and willing to serve.
Threading through the story is their determination to do what is right in a corrupt world… or what they thought was right, as their assumptions are challenged when they learn more about each other’s point of view. Their torn loyalties bring doubts and worries, that all young people will associate with, having to grow up in a confusing and contradictory adult world. In that sense, it is a coming-of-age story, with the main characters maturing, growing from childhood to adulthood.
But, kindness conquers hatred. Love wins through. The story makes it clear that evil is to be battled against and overcome at all costs. The benevolent King, whose kingdom is under attack from dark forces of evil, makes a sacrifice for his people, but also for the individual. He pays the price to redeem his people, with his blood.
The two youngsters play a key part in the victory. Despite their sin, despite them not being worthy, despite the difficulties in comprehending or believing it, the sacrifice is made. They find true belief in goodness, truth, mercy and true justice, which wins over deceit and lies. Light conquers darkness.
The story shows that we are all sinful, we have capacity to be misled and do evil. There is corruption in us, but when we confess it we are forgiven and free, and we can take positive actions not to give in to it. Then we are free to be filled with new life and light, to serve the King.
There are plenty of Christian themes running through the book, making it a great allegorical story for the Christian reader. Books like this are so needed to engage young readers and hook them in to reading books… books that are wholesome, clean and with strong underlying principles. Books that allow younger readers to fire their imaginations and be inspired.
Stories were used often by Jesus to get His important teaching messages across, and many great communicators use stories. They engage, enthral and help us find our way in this world, and The Dark Star by HR Hess does just this.
There must be more adventures ahead for these two characters, so I am very much hoping that there is a sequel or two on the way!
The Dark Star, by H R Hess, is available here.
I received an advance complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no pressure to provide a favourable review.