Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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If Narnia is you favorite series ever, what should be next?

I know, I know, I failed to post anything last week. First I wasn’t at work land can’t post from home at this time of year; and second my parents had a parade of guests last week — many of my Dad’s siblings, who seldom visit because it’s a longish drive. Since Dad can’t travel any more, they came here. It was great to see them, but my scheduled posts ran out and my intentions to get into town long enough to put up more posts came to nothing.

But nothing like that should happen again until July, and at that point I’ll try to schedule more posts ahead.

Anyway! Here is a recent question on Quora that you might find interesting:

Are there any great fantasy books out there like CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia with extra biblical themes?

And the answer is, maaaayyybe, but fantasy novels that explicitly bring Christian themes front and center are, as you all might have noticed in a lifetime of reading SFF, rather rare. Also, if you want to stick to GREAT fantasy novels, well, that does kinda narrow things down.

Of course Tolkien drew heavily on Christianity, but those themes are hidden, not explicit, in the Lord of the Rings. However, I did take a few minutes to rack my brain for other examples where such themes are more explicit.

The story that came to mind, possibly because I read it fairly recently, was Regina Doman’s Shadow of the Bear. This is a contemporary retelling of the Snow White and Rose Red fairy tale. The current cover up on Amazon is dreadful. This one is much better:

Here’s the description: Once upon a time… In New York City, a young, secretive street tough who calls himself, Bear, lands on the doorstep of two teenaged sisters. On the one hand Rose is delighted with his surprising knowledge of literature, poetry, and music; on the other hand Blanche is afraid of his apparent connections to drugs, murder, and a hidden treasure. Even as Blanche learns to trust him, her fears that Bear’s friendship threatens their family prove terrifyingly true.

That’s pretty accurate! If you’re at all fond of the Snow White and Rose Red fairy tale, Doman managed to stay quite startlingly close to the original given the contemporary NYC setting. A very strong Catholic influence definitely pervades the story, which is, if not great literature in the Narnia sense, certainly well written. I enjoyed the story quite a bit.

This was my initial thought on the question. If any of you have other novels — perhaps more decidedly in the fantasy genre — perhaps you might drop them in the comments, along with a thumbs-up/thumbs-down reaction.

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10 Comments If Narnia is you favorite series ever, what should be next?

  1. Craig N.

    The two that come to mind both might have issues for anyone phrasing the question that way.

    John C. Wright’s GREEN KNIGHT’S SQUIRE trilogy is only a bit older than Narnia: its contemporary hidden-fantasy world is ultimately Christian (and medieval; hence, Catholic). It’s supposed to be the first of four interlocking trilogies (MOTH AND COBWEB, as a whole); the only other one out is a tad older and not as good.

    Moon’s DEED OF PAKSENNARION is definitely for older readers than Narnia, and has lesser gods around in addition to the High Lord. But since the climax features the paladin main character sent to redeem* others by suffering, it counts in my book.

    (* “buy the freedom of”, archaic)

  2. Kathryn McConaughy

    If you’re looking for Lewis-quality Christian fantasy, the only current writer I know at that level is Anne Elisabeth Stengl, especially her fourth book (Starflower) and beyond. Her prose is excellent and her stories have strong fairy tale resonances without being drawn from any specific tale. One of her MC’s is an arrogant but adorable Faerie cat, always a good selling point.
    If you are okay with less-well-written stuff, you can find it at the Speculative Faith website and/or by subscribing to the free Lorehaven magazine, which has a lot of reviews.

  3. Diana

    Silver Scales (The Warlock, the Hare, and the Dragon Book 1) by L. Rowyn has a lot of Biblical themes / influence, more so than I even expected, based on the premise. I enjoyed it, but I can definitely see that it might be too much / too heavy handed for some people.

    Here’s the summary:

    He’s had his whole life to save himself from damnation — and now he’s almost out of time.

    The fate of Sir Damon Kildare’s soul rests on finding the silver scales of a living dragon, a quest the woman who damned him wants him to fail. Kildare expects to fail, too: the last dragon was slain eighteen years ago by humans intent on genocide. And the scales are only one part of the infernal challenge: there are two more he hasn’t even identified, much less obtained.

    But the daughter of the last surviving dragonslayer, Zenobia Gardsmark, is determined to save his soul. She has aid from unlikely corners: from Madden, Kildare’s magical hare companion, to indomitable ogres and determined schoolgirls. She’ll need whatever help she can get, because all the forces of Hell are against them, and time is running out…

    Will God allow demons to drag a good man into the Abyss? And will Zenobia and their friends find the answer before it’s too late?

  4. Irina

    Katherine Kurtz’ Deryni books might qualify. I can’t say if it’s “great fantasy”, but the world is thoroughly Christian, with some of the characters’ difficulties springing from their (or others’) faith. I love the books (currently rereading again) in spite of some glaring flaws.

  5. Elaine T

    KNIFE and sequels by Anderson. More in the Tolkien end of things, but set in our world (more or less) so more up front than his work. Not AS blatant as Lewis.

    I think I tried the Dolman years ago… checks … yep, and bounced hard at the time. Also bounced off John Wright’s YA.

    I remember a few/tenish years ago picking up a couple in a series written by a guy with the day job of movie reviewer for a Christian publication, which might fit, but they’ve been culled for space and I cannot dredge title or author up. Maybe this will ring a bell for someone else. The title and story had something to do with color. color had mostly gone from the world, but main character was bringing it back. Something like that.

    on a totally different topic, I sent my list of errors in DOOR to your gmail last night.

  6. Pete Mack

    Mary Catelli, “A Diabolical Bargain”.
    Magic wuth Catholic or Anglican Church. Devils leave spellbooks scattered around for the lazy, stupid, and power-hungry.

  7. Elaine T

    I was coming back to recommend Mary’s book.

    Also, I remembered that other series and author: Jeffrey Overstreet, Auralia’s Colors. I lost track of the series because the writing wasn’t quite working for me, and it’s aimed older than Narnia is, but it was original and had interesting stuff.

    Stephen Lawhead is supposed to have written rather Christian fantasy, but I never managed to get around to seriously trying his work.

  8. Andrea

    Surprised no one mentioned the Dragonkeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul. It has themes that are pretty clearly Christian, but like the Narnia Chronicles it’s readable just as a fantasy series. As you can tell from the title it’s focused on dragons, and about a girl who can form connections with them. I first read it when I was younger and still like it a lot.

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