This past week the Christian publishing world was shaken by the announcement from Broadman & Holman (B&H) Publishing regarding their new Christian fiction strategy. Steve Laube, a major voice in the Christian publishing industry, commented on these changes at this link. This may seem like some mundane industry-babble but it has grave implications for the reader of Christian fiction. The bottom line is this: a major Christian publisher has decided to back off of fiction unless it ties in with some other media initiative (such as a movie). In fact, all contracts for future fiction that would have been released beyond April 2014 are now null and void. Kaput! Gone! And, I know that feeling!
Why? In September 2012 just a few weeks before the release of my second book, “The 12th Demon: The Mark of the Wolf Dragon” by Charisma, I received a notification that I was being released from my five book contract after the second book. This didn’t catch me totally by surprise. I had already heard from a couple of my fellow authors at the Realms imprint (an imprint is a division of a publishing “house” focused on a particular “genre”) who had suffered the same fate. As of September there were two of us left, myself and Mike Dellosso easily Realms bestselling author. Mike has now moved on also. At least I was in good company! I know this was a business decision made because of the downturn in the economy but it had a lasting impact on my personally as well as many Christian authors.
What does all of this mean for you, the reader of Christian fiction?
It will mean a much smaller selection of books and a much narrower range of genres. Major publishers will not be taking as many chances with new authors and will not be looking to branch out into “strange waters” such as Christian speculative fiction. Frankly, this frightens me. I am already a victim of the troubled economic times coupled with the sea change in traditional publishing trying to adapt to newer digital technology. However, I followed the advice of Michael Hyatt, once CEO of Thomas Nelson (which has been swallowed up by the larger HarperCollins publishing behemoth along with Zondervan). He suggested I self publish. The good news for authors like myself is there are many reputable self publishing ventures available. The bad news is I have to fund the book and all of the prep work myself. Let’s just say it makes for a tremendous tax right off! But, I am hoping the momentum of two previous books will help “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” sell enough copies to keep the series going.
It is a sad confession on my part to reveal that I have never read any of Anne Elizabeth Stengl’s “Tales of the Goldstone Wood”. And, now, I am reviewing a book that takes places thousands of years before those four books. I have missed out on a rich, immersive experience by not reading the first four books. I shall soon remedy that situation because “Starflower”, the newest entry into this “canon” of books is excellent. It is a moving fantasy far deeper than most fantasy; deep with character development; deep with thematic lessons; deep with a rich, lush tapestry of a world against which the action unfolds.
I will only be doing a one day book review because I have plans for finishing up my blog entries about the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth that transcend any religious devotion. I want to finish this by Christmas so I will be giving one day only to this review. And, all I can say is if you love Narnia; if you miss Middle Earth; if you enjoyed such stories as Alice in Wonderland, then you MUST read this book. Anne Elisabeth Stengl has created a setting in which rivers and trees come to life; a world in which animals talk and faeries can take on human or animal form. I haven’t encountered such a rich environment since I went back and rediscovered George MacDonald’s fantasy worlds. Those stories, by the way, were deeply inspiring to C. S. Lewis and he attributes MacDonald’s influence on his desire to create Narnia. The world of “Starflower” reaches those levels of fantastic believability
The story begins with Hri Sora. Once a dragon and now stripped of her wings by the Dark Father, she cannot remember all of her former life. She can only remember a burning lust for revenge.
Eanrin is a bard, the prince of poets, an immortal faerie and part cat. I know it sounds strange but just like a cat, he is also haughty and arrogant until he meets the character of Starflower. He finds his inner strength.
Starflower is the maid and is cursed. Her trials and travails are what endeared her to me. Made strong in her weaknesses by a love and a selflessness that even her cursed tongue cannot hold back.
The story begins with Hri Sora vowing to carry out a nefarious plan for the Dark Father in order to regain her dragon status. Hri Sora makes a deal with her father to bring back a special treasure. In order to do that, she must kidnap the Queen’s sousing who knows what the treasure looks like.
Eanrin goes after the kidnapped love of his life, Lady Gleamdren and in the process encounters Starflower. He comes across Starflower after she has drunk from the enchanted river. He feels sorry for her and agrees to take her to a witch owing him a favor and soon the girl is wakened from her deep sleep. Starflower is under a curse and cannot speak. He takes her with him as he pursues Hri Sora and, or course, we learn that there is a connection to the dragon witch! You’ll have to read the book and immerse yourself in this wonderful tale. Be prepared to be transported to a land of magic and enchantment! The story is fast paced and filled with moments of exhilaration and excitement. The world inhabited by the story is very complex and real; frankly refreshing and exciting.
I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoy fairy tales and fantasy and I can’t wait to go and read the other four books!
In conjunction with the CSFF blogtour I received a copy of ” Starflower”.
*Book link – http://www.amazon.com/Starflower-Tales-Goldstone-Elisabeth-Stengl/dp/0764210262/
Author Website – http://anneelisabethstengl.blogspot.com/
Author Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-Elisabeth-Stengl/120543861335559
Participants’ links: Be sure and check out these other reviews!
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rachel Starr Thomson
My wife wanted pizza. I’m dieting and can’t eat pizza. She called our favorite pizza joint, Smitty’s and ordered two pizzas and sent ME to pick them up. All the way over I was debating whether of not to get off of my diet for one night and eat some hot, luscious, cheesy pizza. My diet prevailed. I walked into Smitty’s and there in front of me on the counter was this magazine:
I picked it up and waved it in the air before the tired eyes of the two harried women behind the counter. “Hey, I wrote this! Right here! This article! I wrote this!” They looked at me like I had quoted John 3:16 in Klingon. I nodded meekly and paid for my salad and two pizzas and grabbed a handful of the FREE magazines as I headed out the door. You can find this magazine for FREE in most stores in the Shreveport and Bossier City area.
Check out my article on a forensic analysis of the death of Jesus Christ. It is based on a presentation I’ve given about two dozen times in the past year. In fact, if you can’t find the magazine or don’t live anywhere near northwest Louisiana, you can see my presentation for FREE.
That’s right, for FREE. Go to the website of Athanatos Ministry’s Online Apologetic Conference (link) and register for the FREE day and you can sit back and relax and watch my presentation in the comfort of your favorite computer, laptop, or tablet. And, if you like what you see and hear, then I will be speaking again on Saturday on Christian Speculative Fiction and Apologetics. I’ll be talking about Christian horror, fantasy, and science fiction books that illustrate the Christian worldview. That’s right. Horror. Fantasy. Science Fiction. Didn’t think such a thing existed with a Christian worldview. Guess again and sign up for this most excellent conference and find out all about the literary legacy of a defense of the Christian Faith. Anthony Horvath, the founder of Athanatos Ministry has put together a fascinating look at the intersection of these two ideas. Check it out. I hope to see you there. Well, I won’t see you, but you can see, or more importantly, just HEAR me.