Much like The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Darkened Land begins with a conversion journey, but then takes a The Lord of the Rings–style turn as an army of evil creatures lay siege to a city of good people. Larry Paris’s novel is an ambitious work, filled with heroes battling various grotesque monsters. But these heroes, rather than being paragons of perfection, exhibit struggles typical of real people. The story seems to falter upon a few cumbersome devices, such as a trans-dimensional “closet” that characters must enter when they pray, and the titular gloom, which seems to cause darkness or blindness that keeps heroes from seeing. Despite these potential fumbles in the dark, however, the story possesses a good heart.
Best for: Older teens and adults.
Discern: Some allegorical parallels to evangelical practices, such as “prayer closets,” and at least one scene with a character promised a kind of spiritual elitism.