N.D. Wilson is the author of the best-selling 100 Cupboards series, Notes from the Tilt-a-whirl, an Annie Dillard-esque theological thrill ride of a book, and is one of my favorite storytellers. There’s a flavor in his books that, if you’ve read the likes of Tolkien and Lewis and Dillard and MacDonald, you’ll find familiar—but it never feels like imitation. Wilson is developing a voice of his own, seasoned with just the right amount of beauty and truth and wonder. If you’re like me, and you’re a sucker for a good story about a kid on a perilous journey (inside and out), then get thee to the Rabbit Room and pick up The Dragon’s Tooth. Thank you, N.D. Wilson, for the stories.
I asked my friend Brian Wilhorn, an educator, book lover, and the brains behind the popular blog HelpReadersLoveReading.com, to read The Dragon’s Tooth and tell us what he thought. Check out his blog here, and follow him on Twitter here.
Fantasy novels are sneaky. At first they whisk readers away to a foreign land with an honorable family determined to rule justly or where hardworking folk live under some tyrannical ruler. Next come the fantastical creatures, great flying beasts and beings with mystical powers. Then there’s the tense build to the epic battle where good triumphs over evil.
Readers know what to expect. Or rather I know what to expect. Rather, I think I know what to expect when it comes to fantasy novels. But just as I’m prepared to escape into a world where dragons breathe fire or fairies cast spells or inexperienced youngsters unexpectedly save the kingdom, that’s when fantasy novels get sneaky. Suddenly, amidst all the fires and spells and rescues, I find characters facing the very issues I thought I was escaping.
By Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
I just stumbled on this poem last night and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. This collection of Hopkins’s poems is on my night stand, so I looked it up again as soon as I got into bed. I read it again just now, then forced it on Jamie (a professed poetry hater, unless that poem is about her, by me). She said, when I finished, “What–in–the–world was all that about?”
Folks, this is going to be cool. Blackbird Theater company here in Nashville is reviving one of the Rabbit Room’s favorite author’s only plays, and we get to be a small part of it. The guys behind Blackbird Theater are talented, intelligent, and passionate about telling stories this way–I know because I’ve attended each of their productions so far and have come away each time enriched and grateful. (I also felt like my brain was going to split open. In a good way.)
So we’re partnering with Blackbird to offer you Rabbit Roomers a special night. On Saturday, August 13, at 7:30 p.m., at Shamblin Theater on Lipscomb University campus, we’re going, by Jove. Not only will we get discount tickets, we’ll have a block of seats reserved. Then, if you’re up for it, we’ll convene somewhere afterward to talk about Chesterton, Magic, and cheese. (Pipes are optional.) It should be a great night.
In case you’re wondering who the heck G.K. Chesterton is, the following piece by Wes Driver, the director of the play, will acquaint you with the jolly Englishman whose fierce wit, intelligence, and faith planted some of the seeds that blossomed into C.S. Lewis’s conversion to Christianity.
I’m a fan of the Harry Potter books. There. I said it. Whenever I visit a bookstore I can’t resist a walk through the Young Readers section, where my heart flutters at cover illustrations of dragons and detectives and ghosts and kids dashing across fantastic landscapes. I’ve always loved those stories, and many times I take the books from the shelves and, with chills running up and down my arms, thumb through them. Sometimes I even smell them. (There. I said that, too.)
Years ago, on one of my trips through the kids’ section I noticed a book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It looked cool, and the jacket indicated that it had won a few awards. A year or so later I saw the second book, this one on display. By the time I spotted Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on the shelves the buzz was loud enough that I decided to buy the first book. I read it, and although it had some great moments, I wasn’t hooked. But at the time I was writing On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and was learning so much so quickly about writing, I already knew North! Or Be Eaten would be a better book. I desperately hoped my readers would stick with me through my first faltering attempt at fiction because I had a much bigger story to tell.
[Update: Chapter Seven is now available for download. Check your app.]
The Rabbit Room has always been about stories. More than that, it’s about what’s behind the stories. That great and loving Mystery moves behind the veil and speaks every once in a while through artists, poets, and starry-eyed priests.
Just in time for Father’s Day, the latest episode of the Rabbit Room podcast is up, in which A.S. “Pete” Peterson talks about gladiators, George of the Bush, and his dad. Click here to listen.
First of all, I spent the last four hours or so reading all your reviews, and I’ve cried about four times. That’s partly because I’m a crybaby, and partly because I prayed almost every day of the writing of The Monster in the Hollows that the book would connect with you, the Dear Readers. What a joy it is to see that, in at least your cases, it did.
Second of all, it was HARD to choose a winner. There were so many well-written and thoughtful posts to read, and even after I narrowed it down to five reviews it wasn’t easy. At the bottom of this post you’ll find a list of all the blogs, and I encourage you to visit them when you get a chance. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for telling your friends and relations about these books.
I’m honored to call Fernando Ortega my friend. He has one of the best voices on the planet, he’s wise (and he’d probably prove my point by claiming he isn’t), and he’s one of the funniest people I know. Fernando graciously let me open for him on a tour about eleven years ago, and night after night I marveled at his ability to connect with the audience, at his musicianship, and at the way he somehow managed to make the hymns I grew up singing sound new again.
He lives in New Mexico, which means I hardly ever see him anymore—a fact which, tonight, grieves me a little. So stumbling on this video today was a nice surprise. If you’ve never bought a Fernando Ortega album, I suggest In the Shadow of Your Wings. It’s a great representation of what makes him so good. I’ve probably listened to it on a hundred Sundays, and I’m still moved by his ability to deliver a lyric like nobody’s business. I thank God he’s still making music, and I can’t wait to hang with him again. His new album Come Down, O Love Divine releases July 11, and I’ll be the first in line.
(UPDATE: Since some of you guys haven’t gotten the book yet, we’ve decided to extend the date to June 8. Thanks for all the kind words so far! I’m so glad to hear you’ve enjoyed the story. Whew!)
This is the official release week for The Monster in the Hollows, so we’re celebrating by having a [...]
A couple of weeks ago we invited twenty folks to the Hutch on a Sunday afternoon for free popcorn, free drinks, and free Eric Peters music. The result is the first of a series of Rabbit Room (Live) shows. Keep an eye on @TheRabbitRoom (Twitter) to catch the next show.