Creator’s Call (Book Review)

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
  • Author: Costas Ioannou
  • On-Sale Now
  • Synopsis: After meeting in a tavern, Edward and June begin a quest that spans various kingdoms, as they flee from a demoniac who is plotting against June. Along the way, they encounter dragons and evil creatures, make new friends and enemies, and seek the will of the Creator.

What Drew Me

I came across Creator’s Call when Beauty in the Binding posted a book spotlight. I really liked the book’s title and cover, especially when I zoomed in and saw the words “A people shrouded in darkness have seen a great light…”. This is a rewording of Isaiah 9:2 / Matt. 4:16. Plus, light/darkness is one of my favorite themes in Scripture, because of its story-quality. (John 1 is one of my favorite passages, for this reason.) After seeing David Bergsland’s review calling this a “Spirit-Filled Christian Fantasy,” I decided to reach out to the author to request a review copy.

Key Scripture

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…”

Acts 1:8

Spiritual Themes

Allegory frequently deals with redemption and faith, new life in Christ, and the struggle between good and evil. Creator’s Call follows suit, interacting with each of these themes, with particular emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit.

I really appreciate fantasy books that demonstrate the work of the Spirit, because, for me, allegories really open my eyes to the truths of Scriptures. So, when I see a book that combines fantastic elements and Scriptural parallels with the reality of the Holy Spirit, I love that the Holy Spirit (God) forms a bridge between the world I live in and the world of the books. One of my very favorite Narnia quotes (which is on my personalized Bible cover) is when Aslan tells Lucy that He introduced her to Narnia so that she could know him in her own world.

Creator’s Call demonstrates God’s supernatural work in His children, beginning with changing their hearts. The story also touches on forgiveness, release from demonic oppression and gifts of the Holy Spirit (specifically, speaking in tongues), and supernatural power amidst spiritual battle. But (and this is very important to me), although this book certainly attests to the realities of spiritual gifts and warfare, that is not the stopping point. The characters are empowered by God, in their relationship with Him. They recognize that, in surrender to Him, they can experience true freedom, and, yes, He will empower them. We see that God’s supernatural power is needed to love and forgive someone who has harmed you, just as it is needed to release the demoniac (Ted Dekker’s Blessed Child very much ruminates on this theme, as well).

Emphasis on Purity

When I see Christian allegory, I’m inclined to take a look at the book, since this is my favorite genre. I have been even more invested in allegory, lately, as I seek books that convey God’s truth.

With that said, this book stands out to me for another reason. Purity is another very important criteria for me, in selecting books, and I’m happy to say that Creator’s Call also actively emphasizes purity. This isn’t something that I usually see in allegory.

Various male characters lust for a sorceress when they interact with her by means of an enchanted stone. They also learn that they are unable to overcome this power, on their own. In my opinion, the enchanted stone directly corresponds to pornography, although I’m sure it could be interpreted as a metaphor for broken sexuality, in general.

Additionally, there is a strong and powerful distinction between loving someone and loving someone more than God. I consider this extremely important in Christian books with romance plotlines.

Things I Liked

  • I appreciated that God is consistently referred to as the Creator. This isn’t something we often focus on, as Christians, but I think it so important because God’s role as Creator ties directly to the first commandments He gave to people.
  • This book has dragons, which don’t always interest me. However, I really liked the ways that Iannou developed the dragons’ characters and history. One dragon, in particular, was very likable.
  • I liked the plot twists. I won’t say more about what they are.

Critique

The book was definitely full of truth. However, there were multiple parts that read more like a doctrinal statement, with the truths being spelled out (rather than symbolized). As someone who is very familiar with the Bible, I prefer to see parallels, rather than sermons. However, this book can potentially introduce doctrine to someone who is unfamiliar with it.

I really would have liked to see more of the characters’ interaction with the Son (“the Deliverer”). Of course, this has been explored in various other allegory books.

Audience

Audience-wise, I think this book is suited to young adult and adult Christians. Because there are a number of sensual (referencing temptation) references, I wouldn’t recommend it to kids. But as someone who is very careful about what I read, I was not bothered by the content. Instead, I really appreciated that this allegory explored sexual purity, in addition to numerous other Christian themes.

Believing is Seeing (Book Review)

I requested and received a complimentary copy of the book from the author and the publisher.
  • Author: Michael Guillen, PhD
  • Publisher: Tyndale House
  • On-Sale: Next Week! (Sept. 7th)
  • Synopsis: Scientist Michael Guillen outlines the formation of his worldview, highlighting the ways that science informed and intersected with his developing faith.

Scripture Connection

“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Rom. 1:20

About the Author

Michael Guillen has not one or two, but THREE doctorates, in some very involved and complex fields. He studied physics, astronomy and mathematics before becoming a science correspondent for ABC News. In this capacity, he has traveled the world’s breadth and depth, plunging into a volcanic crater and submerging beneath sea level to investigate the Titanic.

What I Liked

Believing is Seeing caught my eye on NetGalley. I really liked the cover design, which features various scientific sketches, equations and symbols. While I’m unfortunately unable to identify all of these, the effect is really cool— and you don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate this book.

As someone who is not a big fan of nonfiction, I thought that this book would be a great resource and hopefully introduce me to some neat scientific principles that tie-in with my faith. While the book was a little bit different than what I had expected, (more of a personal narrative driving home the importance of worldview) I was very impressed with the engaging writing. Little wonder, since the author has a background working in the news, and got the job because a producer “liked how [he] explained things.”

Worldview is at the center of Guillen’s latest title, which emphasizes the importance of having a solid worldview. Throughout the book, Guillen shares moments from his own life story and faith journey.

Cool Themes

  • Guillen demonstrates that everyone, including scientists and atheists, has faith. While this is definitely an argument that I’ve heard from Christians, before, I feel that Guillen has a lot more credibility (from a worldly standpoint) in making the claim, since he has spent so much of his life studying science and performing research and experiments. He is not spouting off with an easy rebuttal when he says that atheists require faith, too. Instead, he spends time poking holes in science, not to tear it down but to say, essentially, “These are some things that we can’t explain (or prove.) When we build our scientific reasoning on these premises, we are acting out our faith.”
  • Guillen argues that everyone has a worldview, whether or not they spend a lot of time cultivating it. Ultimately, in desperate situations, people are clinging to their worldviews. And, they are acting on those beliefs.
  • The author delves into the parallels between belief in science and belief in Christianity, showing how both belief systems provide similar answers to certain fundamental questions.
  • I also really enjoyed the discussion about light and how the Scriptural and scientific truths align on this.

Audience

I originally thought that this book was for a Christian audience. Having finished reading, I think a more appropriate audience would actually be people who are uncertain of their worldview. I can also see that this book is targeted toward a young audience, including Christians who may find that their worldview is being questioned. With that said, I think that Christians can definitely learn from and appreciate the book— particularly the idea that science and faith are not mutually exclusive. And the parallels between science and Scripture were a lot of fun!

Content Concerns

Guillen alludes to the age of earth in millions of years and I’m not sure what exactly his beliefs are regarding a literal six day creation.

Recommendation

I think this book is an excellent tool for young people (say, high-school/ college-age)— Christians and non-Christians alike! I believe this can be an apologetic/ evangelistic tool for truth-seekers of varying backgrounds.

Dark Intercept (Book Review)

I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley and the publisher.
  • Authors: Andrews & Wilson
  • Publisher: Tyndale House
  • On-Sale Date: Sept. 7th
  • Synopsis: Newly-retired Navy SEAL Jed Johnson finds himself engaged in an urgent new operation: tracking down twelve year-old Sarah Beth and her kidnappers.

Personal Connection

The book is a supernatural thriller and the Lord really used it to speak to me! I have been experiencing spiritual warfare, recently, and the book shed light on the realities of my own circumstances. It’s not a flesh and blood battle!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Eph. 6:12

What I Liked

  • The writing was excellent! I was especially impressed with the chapters written from Sarah Beth’s perspective. I felt that the authors did a particularly good job of capturing Sarah Beth’s youthful innocence, without losing sight of her unique gifting and intelligence. She is an insightful, extremely believable, character. I’m also rather amused that these were my favorite (in terms of writing) sections, considering that both authors are male.
    • Along this line, this is my first time reading a book by these authors. However, if they haven’t done so yet, I hope they write a children’s book— partially because I was so impressed with Sarah Beth’s (third-person limited) narration, and partially because this book was a bit intense for me (but really good!).
  • In terms of content and writing, the book reminded me of Ted Dekker’s writing. I say that as a compliment, because Dekker is one of my very favorite novelists.
  • The pacing was also delicious! While I had a little bit of trouble “getting into” the prologue (a snapshot of a battle scene in Afghanistan), I was hooked from chapter one! The authors have a knack for switching between perspectives just when things are getting interesting. It drives me crazy and keeps me reading!
  • Similarly, the mystery elements were engaging and intriguing. I really like how Andrews and Wilson kept me guessing.
  • I very much appreciated the supernatural emphasis, which was so timely for me.

Spiritual Elements

As I’ve mentioned above, the book strongly sheds light on the reality of spiritual battles, which we see described in Eph. 6. Like This Present Darkness, a popular Christian novel by Frank Peretti, I believe this book has a lot of potential to raise awareness among Christians. In general, I am “aware” of spiritual warfare, but the Lord really used it for me to shed light on spiritual warfare that I’ve recently experienced. For this reason, the book felt practically useful, in addition to being a well-crafted work of fiction.

With that said, I think I would have liked to see a bit more direct interaction with the Heavenly Father. There was a lot of emphasis on the physical battle, alongside the spiritual. While the physical battle was integral to the plotline, I think I wanted more of a conscious recognition that God was the One battling.

This is in no way to say that the book “leaves God out” of it. There are numerous references to His role in the battle between good and evil. I am just a little bit wary of emphasis on the impressiveness of spiritual warfare/ gifts over the Holy Spirit Himself. I’m NOT saying this book does that. Instead, I’m saying that, for a reader who struggle with the temptation to focus on the supernatural for its own sake , I’d advise caution.

Content Notes

One thing I really liked is that, in a few instances that used the Lord’s Name, the authors specifically allude to prayer, not just exclamation. (For those who are concerned, there were a few “swear“ words. I’m more concerned about the Lord’s name.)

There’s a flashback to rape.

There’s quite a bit of violence / intense scenes. With that said, I felt that the content was appropriately suited to the subject-matter, not gratuitous. It makes sense to me that, in a book about the battle between good and evil, there’s going to be violence. It wouldn’t really make sense to omit evil. In this sense, I feel that the content was appropriate to the subject matter, but certainly not mild. I wouldn’t say that this was a “scary” book, though 🙂

Recommendation Status

Fast-paced, gripping and well-written, this is definitely a book for adults—or at least older teens. I would particularly recommend it as an illustration of the reality of spiritual warfare.