Review: The Land of Darkness

The Land of Darkness is the third fairy tale in C.S. Lakin’s Gates of Heaven series, this time following the quest of a twelve-year-old girl named Jadiel and her unlikely companion, a woodworking apprentice who is obsessed with finding a legendary bridge.

Driven out by her evil stepmother to find the eternal-youth-giving leaves of a tree, Jadiel has only thirty days to come home victorious, or her stepmother will kill the one she loves most—her father. Young and innocent, Jadiel nearly ends her journey in disaster only days after she sets out, but she is rescued by Callen, an impetuous young man with good aim and little patience. Callen is seeking a bridge he has only seen in ancient drawings. As he and Jadiel work together to decode the strange writing on the drawings, they discover that the bridge is made from the same tree Jadiel is seeking. To find the tree, all they need to do is find the bridge.

The only problem is that the bridge doesn’t exist. Or it’s invisible. Or it lies in a terrible, cursed land shrouded in darkness. The more they learn about the bridge and the tree, the more Jadiel and Callen find that their quest is not so much to discover a place as it is to discover the truth shrouded in rumours and lies.

In Lakin’s usual fairy-tale style, this story brings together parables of Christ with talking toads and wicked witches; allegorical elements with echoes of Snow White. And readers of the whole series will be rewarded as various characters from The Wolf of Tebron and The Map Across Time appear here—the first time the stories have really started to cross over.

Perhaps because one of the protagonists is only twelve, this one read more like a children’s story than the first two. That said, some of its best elements are also its scariest—a ghostly plain, a ruined city, and an escaped, ancient evil stood out as highlights.

Of the three books, The Land of Darkness is also the most clearly and directly a Christian allegory, although it isn’t preachy and has the ability to raise questions, not just answer them. Although it isn’t my personal favourite of the series so far, it was an enjoyable read. Recommended. (And I always point this out–but C.S. Lakin’s covers, done by artist Gary Lippincott, are amazing. This is the best so far.)







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