Review: The Realms Thereunder (CSFF Tour, Day 2)

Ross Lawhead is probably doomed (or blessed, however you want to look at it) to have his name linked to his father and sometime cowriter, Stephen R. Lawhead, in every review. Perils of having a famous father (well, famous in our little backwater genre, anyway). But Ross’s first solely penned novel, The Realms Thereunder, stands on its own. It’s a smart, fast-paced, tightly written adventure that pulled me in at page 1 and refused to let go until the end—which, not surprisingly given that this is a trilogy, is really more of a beginning.

As thirteen-year-old classmates, Daniel Tully and Freya Reynolds accidentally stumbled into a world beneath the world: Nidergeard, a city under siege that lies beneath Oxford and exists to support a sleeping army. Missing for seventy-two days, Freya and Daniel made headlines before they finally turned up in Scotland. They have never told anyone the truth about those days.

Eight years later, Freya is brilliant, OCD, and scared. When she isn’t performing obsessive rituals every time she goes through a door, she spends her time challenging Oxford professors on their understanding of history and myth. Daniel is homeless, the victim of circumstances set off by his disappearance all those years before, and carrying a sword which he uses to wage vigilante justice whenever monsters show up in his world.

When they find each other again, both are plunged back into the reality they have spent so many years trying to escape. The darkness is growing—and it’s coming after them.

Telling the stories of eight years ago and today side by side, Ross Lawhead is a skillful writer, wielding myths, Old English, great dialogue, and suspense like a true pro. My only complaint is that The Realms Thereunder is so obviously a beginning—although it does come to a conclusion of sorts, the conclusion is only propulsion into the next stage of the story.

Still, the writing is so good and the story so intriguing, I can’t imagine that I’ll mind coming back for the next installment.



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5 responses to “Review: The Realms Thereunder (CSFF Tour, Day 2)”

  1. Janeen Ippolito Avatar

    I really enjoyed your summary! Very effectively done.

  2. Rachel Avatar

    Keanan, me too.

  3. […] Crista Richey ? Sarah Sawyer ? ? Chawna Schroeder ? Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson ? ? Rachel Starr Thomson ? Steve Trower ? Fred Warren Dona Watson ? ? Shane Werlinger ? […]

  4. Keanan Brand Avatar

    I enjoyed the book, too, and am looking forward to the next one. Sad (maybe arrogant) but true: I don’t often say that of “Christian fiction”, despite the definite rise in quality in recent years. This story just got hold of me, though, and the writing is excellent.

  5. Rebecca LuElla Miller Avatar

    So glad you decided to squeeze this into your busy schedule, Rachel. So glad to know you enjoyed this one.


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