Since the baby was born, I’ve been catching up on my reading. This is working out great, because all my writer peers are running mega sales on their books to catch the shopping season. I’ve been chewing through a selection of Christian and non-Christian books, just to keep up with the cool kids.
So far, there’s been a marked difference between the two sorts of books. For instance, I’m currently reading The Pygmy Dragon, and it makes my jaded fantasy reader’s heart sing. A shapeshifting pygmy girl with super-strong magic, a fascinating dragon culture, an evil shadow-dragon, and a world of islands floating above a poisonous cloud sea? YES.
Or how about Rainbird? It’s a fantasy/sci fi novella about a world where a continent-sized dragon has crashed onto a world, and people have built a city inside its carcass, and use its eye as a sun. Except the dragon may not be as dead as all that, as our heroine discovers.
Whereas the Christian fiction I’ve read lately has been so lackluster. The bad guy is always Satan. The hero(ine) always wrestles with “OMG I have trouble believing in a God I can’t see OMG God’s love OMG John 3:16 OMG I should stop cussing.” (See my complete list of Christian book tropes.) No glorious flights of imagination. No sense of wonder. I mean, I’ve been reading Acts with the kids, and it’s so much fun. Paul and the rest of the early Christians had so much fire and enthusiasm–where is that in our storytelling?
That’s why I was so blown away by Rob Mullin’s Bid the Gods Arise. Here was the crazy fantastical voyage I wanted from my fat fantasy epic. I actually messaged him, “This is too good for Christian fiction!” which he found flattering. It starts off with two friends, one of whom is stuck in an arranged marriage to a princess, blaw blaw … and then during the wedding, an interdimensional slave ship appears, kidnaps everybody, and sells them as slaves on another world. The top of my head ASPLODE.
I had the same experience with Becky Minor’s elf-centric Windrider books. Although I find elves annoying, I enjoyed both the lyrical prose, and her snarky hero, who constantly lampshades various Christian fiction tropes. He’s like the Dresden of the high fantasy world.
I’m also familiar with Patrick Carr, Anne Elizabeth Stengl, Stephen Lawhead, Donita Paul, and a handful of others. All of them are pretty good. But there’s no breakout Brandon Sandersons, no soaring tales of dragons and magic and, well, fantasy. The fantasy market is plentiful and rich, especially with indie publishing opening the floodgates to zillions of talented authors. (Rachel Aaron, I’d never have found you without the indie world!)
So, my question remains … where is the decent Christian fantasy? And why isn’t there tons more of it?