Owen Reeder is a normal 16-year-old boy … or so he thinks. He lives above a used bookstore, whiling away the long hours by reading since his gruff and distant father rarely allows him outside except for school. Owen’s main worries in life are a school bully with a vendetta and his oral report for science class.
But one day Owen’s life takes a drastic change. He begins to hear voices, and a mysterious old man gives him a beautiful book of immeasurable worth that leads him to believe his future lies elsewhere. He learns there is another realm, one to which he must travel in order to defeat evil and unite the two realms. Now, instead of dealing with the stresses of being a semi-normal teenager in a normal world, Owen must defeat terrifying creatures, elude an evil dragon, and journey through the portal in order to fulfill his destiny. The book he received from the old man proves to be the indispensable guide on this new adventure.
The Book of the King is the first of five novels in The Wormling series by Chris Fabry and Jerry B. Jenkins, co-author of the Left Behind series. Written for young adults, the book is the introduction to an incredible, other-worldly journey full of intrigue, peril, fun, and suspense.
One important aspect of the novel is the fact that, much like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The Book of the King is an allegorical fantasy about the Christian life and our battle against the evil in this world. If your child understands and enjoys the allegories and stories of the C.S. Lewis series, The Book of the King will be appealing as well.
There are some frightening aspects in the book, such as the powerful and thoroughly wicked dragon-ruler of the invisible realm above the earth, whose goal is to stop Owen from receiving the miraculous guidebook and traveling through the portal to the Lowlands. There are also beings in Owen’s world that masquerade as humans (see 2 Corinthians 11:14) but follow the dragon’s bidding. Kids are more used to scary themes nowadays, but if your child is easily frightened, I would not recommend this book if he or she is under 10.
From a purely literary standpoint, the book does have some issues. The writers seem to be unable to pinpoint a target age, sometimes explaining concepts in detail and other times using large words that wouldn’t be in the vocabulary of kids on the younger side of the YA spectrum. There are parts where it feels like more should be left to the imagination or even saved for a later reveal, yet others where I felt things were not described well enough (such as Owen’s creature-companion, the Mucker, and the dragon’s minions). In addition, Owen often comes to sudden conclusions and realizations without any explanation of why or how.
In spite of these hitches, I became thoroughly engrossed with the story, and I’m sure young adults will too. If you have kids ages 9–15, this would be a great book to read aloud with your family. Not only would it be a special bonding time (and a good excuse to enjoy the book yourself), but you’ll also be able to help clear up any confusion the allegories might present for younger ones.
Rebekah Largent is a mom, a wife, and a writer/editor. After many years in the children's curriculum industry, she switched over to Internet ministry at Got Questions Ministries as a writer and editor. In addition to editing and writing articles for GotQuestions.org, she also manages the GQKidz.org website.