Good News -- Young Adult Fantasy With Faith Foundation
by Randall Murphree
August 26, 2005
(AgapePress) - Fantasy literature is fulfilling for some folks, foolishness to others. The sky-rocketing success of the Harry Potter young adult fantasy series has catapulted the genre into the spotlight, and many a Christian parent is dismayed at the furor. Many are hesitant to buy fantasy novels with witchy children and schools for warlocks, but they are unaware of acceptable alternatives to the secular fantasies.
Fortunately, there's good news. Christian fiction is beginning to offer great stories in the fantasy genre aimed at young readers. Author Bryan Davis recently completed the fourth title in his series "Dragons in our Midst" (AMG Publishers).
In an exclusive interview, Davis said, "As a father of seven, I'm always looking for good, wholesome reading material for my children that would also be interesting and inspiring."
He could find exciting books, but they often lacked moral values. So he found himself telling stories from his own imagination. He once told his oldest son about a dream in which a boy breathed fire. His son's creative fires were stoked, and the two brainstormed until they had the story of Billy Bannister, who breathes fire because his parents are dragons.
That father-son collaboration resulted in Raising Dragons, the first in this series. In the story line, God saves a few good dragons from extinction by transforming them into humans. However, they retain some of the genetic makeup of dragons. Going one step further, young heroes Billy Bannister and Bonnie Silver, both born to dragon/human parents, manifest dragon traits that get them into all sorts of complicated situations.
Imagine the trouble breathing fire can get a boy into; for example, at school one day, he sets off the sprinkler system in the boys' bathroom. Raising Dragons follows Billy and Bonnie through various adventures as they elude the dragon slayers who are always right on their tail.
It's far-fetched. It's funny. It's fulfilling. Foolish it's not. It's fantasy of the highest order, fantasy that weaves into the plot the solid values parents want their children to learn.
"I want to inspire young people to high ideals and remarkable goals," said Davis. "I believe that fantasy heroes can open their eyes to a world they never believed in before, a world where people strive for good and noble pursuits and they actually achieve them because of the character traits they learn or already possess."
Reviewer Sharon Siepel said, "Not since C.S. Lewis has Christian literature produced an author who could weave ancient legends, ancient truths and modern characters into such a compelling story." Pretty high marks for a first-time effort in the genre.
"Since Lewis is my favorite author and I was inspired by many of his books, being compared to him is a great honor," Davis said. "He was a master at weaving spiritual truths into his stories and giving us memorable characters. That's the kind of effect I hope my books have, too."
In Candlestone, the second Davis fantasy title, Bonnie is stalked by a crazed murderer, and Billy is captured by dragon slayers. In book three, Circles of Seven, Billy and Bonnie travel to a mysterious land of despair to rescue innocent prisoners. Tears of a Dragon, the fourth and last of this series, will be available this fall. In it, Billy and Bonnie lead the Earth's defense against a vicious evil force.
Davis is already in the thinking stage for a spinoff series based on the same story line but featuring different main characters. At the same time, he is working on a more mainstream series. "I would be a little more subtle with the Christian themes in this one, thereby opening more doors in the public school system," Davis said, "but it would still lead astute readers closer to God."
The Winter Park, Florida, author says some Christians are dead set against fantasy literature, but he says it has valuable potential as an aid to teach moral values.
The Dragons in Our Midst series offers exciting stories for young readers and a great tool for parents and teachers. Davis speaks frequently at public and private schools, and teaches writing workshops. His dragon website (dragonsinourmidst.com) provides guides and helps for teachers and links to other sites with information on the author, his family, his books and his thoughts on the value of fantasy.
Davis has also written two nonfiction books, The Image of a Father and Spit and Polish for Husbands.
Randall Murphree, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is editor of AFA Journal, a monthly publication of the American Family Association.