This fantasy is first in the "Codebearers Series" by the Miller Brothers and is published by Warner Press.
Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Hunter Brown, a ninth-grade boy at Destiny Hills High School, is unsure of who he is. His sister is smart and popular; Hunter is not. Hunter physically resembles his dad, who left the family three years earlier and has not been heard from since. He knows that he does not fit in and accepts this as his lot in life. Hunter finishes his school year by pulling a prank on the school's bully. To avoid getting caught in the consequences of the prank, Hunter and his friends go on an errand for a new janitor and retrieve a book. Because of this Book, Hunter is able to watch stories unfold, see spiritual creatures, travel to another land and learn about the Author. In the new land, Solandria, Hunter's friends are the Codebearers for the Author, and they teach Hunter how to prepare for the battle that is to come between the Author and Sceleris. Venator is a follower of Sceleris and seems to have a special connection to Hunter. When Hunter is sent on a secret mission to take the half bloodstone from Venator, he soon realizes that he and Venator are the same person and that he needs to choose whom he will follow, the Author or Sceleris. Hunter chooses the Author and dies to himself. He wakes up to find the Author writing a new story for him and begins to live the adventure in his own city of Destiny.
In the world of Solandria, there is a group called the Resistance that is fighting the Shadow. A person fighting for the Resistance is called a Codebearer. The Shadow blinds men to the truth of the Code; it is the job of the Codebearer to make sure the Code is not forgotten. The Codebearers know that they can only do the will of the Author and the Author will never give them anything they cannot handle. Hunter is encouraged to join the Resistance and learn more about the Author through the Author's Writ (the Book). Aviad is the Author's Son, and Hunter needs to meet Him. Hunter must make the trip to Aviad alone. The Veritas sword, used by the Codebearers, is the only weapon that can defeat the Shadow. The Author made it, and the blade carries the Code of Life. The Author created everything, is always in control and knows what is best no matter the circumstances. He shows people how to find Him.
Sceleris was once a friend of the Author, but decided that he wanted to become the Author. The Author sent him away, and Sceleris no longer has access to the Author. Instead, his hatred for the Author increases as he continues to convince others that the Author does not exist.
There is a spiritual battle going on over Hunter's life. Hunter is encouraged to memorize Book passages. Evil spirits speak doubt and fear to Hunter and do not want him to read the Author's Writ; they want him to destroy it. Hunter learns that he can only succeed in his tasks when he asks the Author for help. He can't succeed in his own strength. Aviad tells Hunter that he is never alone and that for the Shadow to not have power, Hunter must die by giving Aviad his heart, that is, his bloodstone. The Author can then write him a new story in which the Shadow and his curse are not a part.
Eventually, Aviad takes both halves of the bloodstone and puts them together in His own chest, finishing the curse forever.
The city of Destiny, where Hunter lives with his family, is an illusion that the Shadow keeps up. Real life is in Solandria, where good and evil spirits can be seen.
The principal at Hunter's school does not believe Hunter's story about the new janitor who told him to retrieve a special book. But, just in case there is an imposter janitor at her school, she takes what he said seriously, and she does everything she can to find this "janitor" in order to keep the students safe.
Hunter's mom is a single parent. Hunter feels that he is an inconvenience to her. She grounds him for the weekend for skipping classes the last day of school. Hunter disobeys and leaves the house. Hunter's father had abandoned the family three years earlier, and Hunter has not had contact with him since.
Sam is Hunter's teacher in Solandria and stays true to the Word of the Author. Hunter highly respects him. Petrov is the commander of the Resistance. He leads according to the Author's plans.
Hunter first sees Aviad as a bumbling, old man, and Hunter cannot see how this old man can help him in any way. Hunter chooses to trust Him, though, and Aviad leads him in the way Hunter must go. Aviad does not give Hunter the answers but assists Hunter as he figures out what the Book says.
Venator is a commander for Shadow and has a special connection to Hunter. He is powerful, ruthless, angry and deceptive.
Belac is a troll who captures Hunter and forces him to become his prisoner and slave. His only thought is for himself and his own comfort, and he does not give a thought to Hunter's well-being.
After the battle of Sanctuary, Ephriam is in charge. Regardless of how things look, he does not want to deviate from Aviad's orders. When Hunter disagrees and gets angry, Ephriam lets him walk away and gives him time to think things through.
Faldyn is a captain in the Resistance. He tries to help Hunter, but Hunter does not trust him. Faldyn gets irritated easily and does not trust Hunter, but ends up saving his life several times.
The Author is in control of all things. He knows what is best in all situations. He is pleased with Hunter and his journey thus far. The Author encourages him and gives him peace.
In Destiny, Hunter is taught the theory of evolution in school. In Solandria, the evil spirits believe that they are in charge of their own destinies. If they follow their own beliefs then they are truly free. Belac wants nothing to do with the Author or Sceleris. He only does what he wants. He believes that as long as he accepts no higher power into his life he is truly free.
2009 Moonbeam Children's Book Bronze Medal Award; Pre-teen Fiction-Fantasy
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
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