Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow is a young adult Christian fantasy book that centers around a young man named ... well, you guessed it, Hunter Brown. Hunter seems like your typical "geek" outcast at school, only he's drawn into an adventure when he's given a mysterious book. The book transports him to a place called Solandria, where he joins up with a group called the Codebearers. The Codebearers are fighting the evil forces of a being named Sceleris, personified by an evil wizard named Venator. Can the Codebearers defeat the evil Shadow and will Hunter ever make it home?
Okay, now that the plot is out of the way, let's discuss why this book really didn't do it for me.
For starters, there's the fact that it's young adult fiction. Let's face reality. I'm twice the target age as the intended readers, so while I could enjoy the tale, it didn't really grab me. Maybe this would be good in the "right hands," so to speak, but those hands don't belong to me.
Second, there were craft issues that drove me up the wall. For example, the Miller brothers kept using improper speech tags all the time. We had people "smiling" their words, or so on and so forth. I've heard it many, many times before: when writing dialogue, only use "said" or "asked" and not much else. Every time I hit an improper speech tag, it jarred me a bit. There were point of view problems as well, where Hunter suddenly knew what was happening in another person's head.
Now by saying that, you may think I'm judging the Miller brothers harshly. Maybe I am. But I say these things as someone who has committed these writing craft sins in the past. Maybe the rules are a little more lax when it comes to YA fiction, I don't know.
And thirdly, the book was too preachy. The allegory was paper thin and easy to see through and that made it less enjoyable for me. Again, maybe this is something that works for YA fiction, but it didn't really do much for me.
Again, this might all be because I'm an adult reading a book intended for readers half my age. I've had this problem before (see my review from a six months ago about Twilight). Maybe if I pass it on to a young adult, said young adult will get more out of it. I have no idea.
And maybe it's just me. Tell you what. Go check out what the other tourists have to say:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Rachel Starr Thomson