Ross Lawhead’s The Realms Thereunder is the story of two young adults struggling to put their childhood encounter with the evil of another world behind them, yet seeing that same evil around them in this world. Daniel is living on the streets while Freya attends university and attempts to block out the memory of their adventure.
I found this story instantly intriguing, feeling connected to Daniel and Freya, even though I knew very little of their story. The author does not begin at the beginning…the childhood adventure took place eight years before the story starts and is related in flashbacks. Daniel and Freya’s present day lives are permanently affected by their adventure. Once they return to their normal lives they can’t simply pick up where they left off. Freya viewed the adventure as terrifying, and developed OCD tendencies and fears. Daniel’s taste of being a hero left him restless, eventually leading to his homeless state. And that is where the story begins.
13-year-old Freya, in the midst of their first adventure says,
“I don’t think this is a happy story. The world is so much more complicated than that cheesy ‘because they were children they were able to overcome the evil-but-stupid wizard’ nonsense they feed to you in kids’ movies. That stuff never really happens. It’s just something grown-ups come up with to make children feel better–to make them think that they aren’t small and insignificant.”
The pacing of the story kept me interested, even though it was sometimes difficult to keep straight the time and place–at one point, the story was running in two different times, and in three different worlds! Another thing hard to sort out was the Old Norse names. I ended up just skipping them, thinking “that guy” and “the other guy” whenever I should have read “Swidgar” or “Ecgbryt”. The depth and layers of this story drew me in completely and I cannot wait to read the next in the series.
My copy of this book was provided free from Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review. The opinions noted are mine alone. The cover photo above was provided by Booksneeze.com