Book Review: The Shadow Things by Jennifer Freitag

08 September 2012

It would be dishonest of me to say that I picked up this book with an entirely unbiased opinion of it. I already knew Jenny could write brilliantly (I read her blog, after all). But there is a great deal of difference between an author who can write well and an author who writes on subjects that interest you. Jenny's magnificent fantasies Adamantine and Plenilune are so vivid and dramatic (from what I can tell; I have not yet read them in entirety), and in comparison, The Shadow Things seemed just a tad more . . . simple. But that is the very deception of Jenny's abilities, for she pulls you in by a seemingly innocent guise, and then slays you then and there with her rich prose and unforgettable characters. Her writing pulls at your heartstrings, and makes you want to weep and smile at the same time.

In other words, this young woman is a Penslayer.

The Shadow ThingsThe Shadow Things
By Jennifer Freitag
*Summary via

The Legions have left the province of Britain and the Western Roman Empire has dissolved into chaos. With the world plunged into darkness, paganism and superstition are as rampant as ever. In the Down country of southern Britain, young Indi has grown up knowing nothing more than his gods of horses and thunder; so when a man from across the sea comes preaching a single God slain on a cross, Indi must choose between his gods or the one God and face the consequences of his decision.

My Thoughts: The beginning was a bit slow, but after I got through the first chapter or so, the rest of the book seemed to fly by faster than I wanted. It drew me in, making me both long to see how the story ended and hate that I would soon have to part with these characters I was loathe to leave. What constantly amazed me was how well Jenny weaves her characters' lives together, including little events that seem insignificant at the time, and yet play a larger role later on and make the story into a fluid and beautiful piece (something with which I frequently struggle in my own writing).

As you already know, characters are my favorite part of literature. And I fell in love with Indi almost immediately. His questioning nature, his boldness, his passion for the Truth, and especially his humility and self-control were all elements of this young man's character that drew me to him. Another character that reached out and tugged at my heart was Indi's sister, Lenag. Poor, long-suffering Lenag, who remains faithful to the end. She withstood so much pain and hurt, and yet she never turned her back on God. Her actions put my faith to shame. And who could forget Procyon, the humble Brown Man who first brought Christianity to the dun? He was the tiny spark that kindled a fire, a conflagration that refused to be put out, no matter how hard Angog and Cynr stomped on the flames.

Pros: Perhaps the best part of this beautiful piece of literature is how each scene is interwoven with the Truth, and yet it never comes across as shallow. Too many so-called "Christian" novels turn into sap with only a mentioning of God thrown in to appeal to the intended audience. Jenny's writing is a perfect example of how Christianity does not guarantee safety or comfort, and nearly every page is steeped in the reality of the Gospel. Jesus Himself said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.The Shadow Things shows the great sacrifices made by early Believers in an honest light, and should humble every Christian reader who spends time within its pages.

Cons: It is definitely a book for more mature readers. Besides some violence and a bit of language, there are instances of adultery and a married man purchasing many slave women for his own pleasure (their purpose in his household is implied, but not stated explicitely). One cruel man unfairly questions his wife's purity because of her close relationship with her brother. Some of the pagan practices are particularly horrific, but they only succeed in convincing the reader of the evil of Indi's former religion. There were also several sweet kisses and embraces between a married man and woman, but those can hardly be called cons.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 14+ because of the mature content listed above.

Get thee to Jenny's blog and purchase this book immediately. It will change your life. And it's on sale for $5.95 with an autograph from the author herself: what's not to love?

A Bit O' Reading For the Day:
Llyeln's eyes hardened into brittle orbs, and his jawline became sharper. "You once told me," he said, "in the quiet hours during the winter, of a man who slew his younger brother out of jealousy before the face of God. I was not about to let that transpire again." — The Shadow Things

3 epistles:

  1. Now I'm going to have to read this :) I love finding new books, and this sounds like a gem!

    Have you read The Pearl Maiden before? Michaela recommended it and I read it last month - another Bible-times story. I loved it.

    1. I loved it, and I know you will, too. If you read it, let me know what you think. :)

      No, I haven't read Pearl Maiden, but I want to. It sounds really good.

  2. The book sounds very interesting. I'll have to take a look at it! Thanks for the review, Elizabeth! :)


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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