This first Christian fantasy book in the "Echoes from the Edge" series by Bryan Davis is published by Zonderkidz.
Beyond the Reflection's Edge is written for kids 14 to 18. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Nathan Shepherd is no stranger to adventure, with a father who investigates strange phenomena and a famous violinist for a mother. But when Nathan's parents are murdered, he finds himself in the midst of a dangerous mystery. With the help of Kelly, his new legal guardians' daughter, Nathan learns how a special mirror, photographs, light and even music can help him see the future and travel between four distinct dimensions. As the two teens dodge the murderous villain Mictar and his goons, they begin to fall for each other. Nathan must eventually choose between rescuing his parents — who are actually alive in another dimension — or saving Kelly's life.
Nathan, a moral, church-going boy, sometimes prays as a means of dealing with his grief and navigating tough decisions. He urges other characters to pray, but they seem only to know the Lord's Prayer. Many of the reassuring words Nathan recalls from his parents involve urgings to trust in God. They tell Nathan that the music people play (literally or figuratively) in their lives that honors God is an act of worship to the Creator. A violin teacher explains how God can create masterpieces ex nihilo (out of nothing). By loving Kelly, Nathan believes he can help her discover God's love.
The evil Mictar, enemy of Nathan and his family, will kill or destroy anyone who threatens his plans. He and his henchmen persistently stalk Nathan, his parents and Kelly through various dimensions. Nathan's deeply loving parents — his dad in particular — have instilled insightful and godly truths into his mind and heart that he recalls at dark moments. Kelly's promiscuous parents cause her embarrassment and make her strive to live in a different way than they've chosen. Pater, the little-seen good brother of Mictar, tells Nathan that power results when we faithfully respond to what we can see in difficult situations.
Other Belief Systems
Kelly's friend Daryl uses God's name in vain. Somewhat gruesome and bloody descriptions appear when the author talks about characters dying. For example, he mentions eyeballs removed from eye sockets, the odor of charred flesh, dead and mutilated corpses in coffins, and dismembered bodies strewn on the ground after a plane crash.
Although Nathan is careful to keep his mind and body pure, there are moments of obvious sexual tension between him and Kelly where he must refocus his thoughts. Kelly hasn't gone the way of the world regarding modesty, language and jokes. Both of her parents, not yet divorced from each other, sleep around. Nathan recalls (in a lengthy paragraph) his father's urging for him to remain pure so he and his future bride will not be haunted by regret.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Nathan's father says courage doesn't mean not being afraid, but it means not letting fear keep you from doing what you have to do.
How have you had to overcome fear to accomplish something?
- Kelly does a lot of lying in her efforts to keep herself and Nathan out of trouble.
How necessary are her lies?
How does Nathan react to her lies?
Is lying ever a godly option?
- Kelly had a hard time hearing the words "I love you."
What do you think kept her from accepting love?
How difficult would it be to accept God's love if you feared love?
- Nathan believes that by showing Kelly love, he can help her discover God's love.
When do our demonstrations of love bring others closer to God?
When does our love for someone who isn't a Christian pull us further from God?
How is this complicated in a boy/girl relationship?
- In light of Kelly's past, her parents' indiscretion and Nathan's efforts to be pure in heart, parents could also discuss the issues of sexual purity and love vs. lust.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.