To Be Called Worthy (Book Review)

  • Author: Penny Johnston
  • Publisher: Power Words Press
  • Available Now
  • Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Kessandra possesses illicit magic, which is reserved for the Clerics class of elves, and anticipates the dangerous “Emptying” ceremony.
  • Disclosure: I received a review copy of the ebook from the author. Opinions conveyed are my own.

Scripture Connection

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

Spiritual Themes

Given that I typically review Christian books, it’s worth noting that this book was described as having Christian themes, not as being a “Christian” book. And that classification makes sense to me, since the novel read more like a clean YA, in my opinion.

The novel’s characters worship the “Maker,” who, significantly (in my opinion) is female. However, aside from the gender, the Maker is very similar to God/Jesus. MINOR SPOILER FOLLOWING (She sacrificially paid the price for the bad things that people did. END OF SPOILER She has made the characters worthy, and they find value and acceptance in her). Many of her lines ring true with Scripture.

Themes of forgiveness and worthiness (in direct correlation with the Maker’s evaluation/gift) are big, in the novel.

I also liked the symbolism with the Clerics and their behavior. I feel that this provided some good food for thought.

What I Liked

This was a very enjoyable read, and a bit different than what I usually read. The writing and narrative are crisp; the author is an editor, and I felt that showed through in the writing.

The brother/sister dynamic between Rinnen and Kessandra was beautiful and brought a lot of power to the novel. Between the cover, the magic and the sibling relationship, I thought at first that the novel would be very similar to Frozen. Having finished the book, I could observe a few other similarities, but I don’t think the author is trying to draw a connection with the Disney film. Again, though, the sibling relationship was so good. I especially liked seeing how Rinnen protected Kessi over the years— and another thematic plot point I won’t spoil, here.

Overall, the family elements, in general, were really well done. I liked the juxtaposition between Linazon and Jorwen as dads and the contrasts shown in their relationships with their sons. I found it particularly interesting to compare Linazon’s relationship with his own son with his relationship with Rinnen. (Linazon, in spite of being more of a secondary character, was one of my favorite characters).

The spiritual content was so rich and strong, particularly the symbolism associated with the different colors of magic. The meaning was clearly accessible for Christian and non-Christian readers, alike. I feel that this was one of those books that can function evangelically, by introducing non-Christian readers to some powerful themes.

The foods were PERFECT, in my opinion— so delightfully imaginative. When I’d read the names of the foods, my first thought was “fairies,” but it also makes sense that elves would eat moon bread and fireweed syrup. This was such an excellent world building element (as was the repetition of the forgiveness phrase), which went really far in setting the scene. I’d like to see more books doing this 🙂

Content

Magic is integral to the plot line. I was a bit more okay with it than usual, because the characters are elves who are born with magic given to them by the Maker, rather than humans who are practicing witchcraft.

There are a few kissing scenes, one of which was rather confusing to me. The other main kissing scene was a bit on the descriptive side, for me (it was part of a flashback). In that scene, there is also a reference to being able to see down the girl’s shirt.

Additionally, there are two mild innuendos/references but this is a mainstream novel and the statements are in relation to a really gross character.

Recommendation Status

This was a really enjoyable book. I’d recommend reader discretion on the basis of content, but (as I saw a reviewer note about a different book) it is still much “cleaner” than most YA books. I’m also really happy with the portrayal of the Gospel, in this novel, which is MAINSTREAM. Yes! I’d like to see this book used for a book club with discussion about the spiritual content.

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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