A Review – Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow 2

Hunter Brown is an average ninth grade boy: good at pranks, bad at first impressions, mediocre at life. Things have been harder to deal with since his father disappeared years ago, but Hunter makes do. Until, in a Neverending-Story-meets-the-Matrix moment, he opens an ancient book and learns that everything he ever knew about his world is wrong.

Not only that, but everything he ever knew about himself is wrong.

Raising my arm to the mirror I wiped the steam away, expecting to see the usual bushy blond hair and oversized ears that reminded me of my father. What I saw instead made my stomach lurch and the blood drain from my face in horror. Something was wrong with my reflection.

Hunter’s terrifying visions collide with reality as he finds himself running from evil spirit-beings that are tracking him in his own hometown. The only way out is into the world of the book — Solandria, where the Codebearers fight an armed resistance against the Shadow. Where Hunter must learn the way of Via, Veritas, Vita — the Way of Truth and Life. Where he’ll face the most powerful enemies and terrifying truths imaginable, and where he’ll finally learn that “By his fear, a man declares his master.”

Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow is a fantasy adventure, an allegory for tweens and teens that’s likely to be read by even younger kids. With that in mind, I make my first caveat: this book is not Anne of Green Gables. It makes use of scary imagery from the start, as Hunter watches a giant red serpent swallow up his town in a vision, falls into an empty grave, and finds himself swimming (or more accurately, drowning) in a lake full of chained dead bodies. While the violence isn’t especially graphic, sometimes it’s gross. And there’s definitely plenty of tension to go around.

At the same time, the book’s frightening images and villains also lend it its greatest strength: this is not a story that shies away from big questions. The truth is that Hunter is not a good guy. He is a sinner who will find out just how deeply his own nature is capable of betraying him and those he loves. As I got deeper into the book, I found myself squirming a little because, the more I identified with Hunter, the more I had to recognize that I’m not a good guy either.

Hunter Brown deals with big issues. It lets us know that our world is in serious danger. It wrestles with questions of free will and Divine sovereignty. It reminds us of eternity.

“You see, Hunter, while there will be some who no longer play a role in the pages you travel, I can assure you those who have been rewritten will never truly die. No, they are at the beginning of a new and wonderful story, one in which there will be no ending, and every page is better and more beautiful than the one before.”

But the book isn’t all serious lessons and scary images — there’s a lot of George Lucas-style fun here, too. One of my favourite scenes involves iguas, giant lizard steeds that run up the trunks of redwood trees and leap from limb to limb while their riders, clipped into their saddles, hang on for dear life. Hunter is personable and often funny.

While young readers are liable to enjoy this story, writers may find themselves throwing fits over certain technique and editing issues (such as the inexplicable spelling of “reins” as “reigns,” done so ubiquitously that I second-guessed myself and checked the spelling to be sure it was wrong!). By the end of the first paragraph I was itching to grab a red pen (whatever happened to commas between independent clauses?). I hoped that the story would grab me enough to make up for this, and while I never stopped desiring to add commas, I found that it did.

Hunter Brown isn’t without its problems. It’s not great literature or seamless writing; not, as I said, Anne of Green Gables — but then, it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be an engaging, exciting story that shares some powerful truths.

In that goal, it certainly succeeds.







4 responses to “A Review – Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow 2”

  1. Manthasds Avatar

    Definatly an amazing book with hidden messeges that arnt even hidden(for those of you that it takes till the 19th reading to find them:))Very good book for all ages.

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