A Highly Recommended Fantasy Series

Now and then, I have the pleasure of stumbling across some real gems in the mountain ranges of self-published novels available in the Wild West that is the interwebs. I discovered the Ariboslia trilogy while searching for that rare and elusive beastie, the Christian portal fantasy novel. Why was I looking for that genre? Because it’s what I write. I needed to assure myself the category actually existed, somewhere, out in the literary world. Lo! And behold! It exists.

How About a Kickstarter Campaign?

J. F. Rogers is the author of the Ariboslia trilogy, a series that gave me hope that I, too, could publish my own Christian portal fantasy books—and perhaps someone out there would actually read them. She’s doing a Kickstarter campaign for her new book that will be launched soon, so stay tuned!

The art is beautiful.

Of course, after enjoying the first book, Astray, I went to the author’s website and signed up for her newsletter, because that’s what I do. Here is the link to her website, jfrogers.com. It’s really cool, because she recently updated it for the impending release of the Ariboslia prequel, Alight. You can also download a free novelette set in the Ariboslia world, called Pepin’s Tale.

Ariboslia, a YA portal fantasy series

Ariboslia is a fantastical version of rural Maine where the shapeshifting gachen live in close communities under the ever-present threat of the vampire-like fasgadair. Much of the backstory is based on Celtic folklore, with Morrigan playing the role of the main antagonist. Several of the clans worship the One True God. Their faith protects them from falling prey to the fasgadair. However, many people in Ariboslia do not and are easy pickings.

So where does the “portal” part of this fantasy come in? The entire series follows the adventures of Fallon Webb, a troubled teenaged orphan from the Earth version of Maine. Raised in a loveless household since her grandfather’s death, Fallon inherits an amulet from her mother that allows her passage through a megalith into Ariboslia. Naturally, the first time she goes through, she has no idea where she is or what’s happening. Fallon discovers she has family in this delightfully beautiful world and embarks on a journey to rescue her mother—who is still alive—from captivity.

Each installment ups the ante for Fallon, and she learns more and more to trust in God instead of herself or other people. The underlying theme is one of God’s abiding love and redemption.

In Astray, her quest is to rescue her mother from her fasgadair captor with a little help from her friends—and a great deal of help from God. She begins as an unbeliever, but her friendship with the gachen of Notirr shows her that she is loved and eventually leads her to faith.

In Adrift, which begins a year later, Fallon is a church-attending Christian. She returns to Ariboslia to find, despite her previous victory against evil, the fasgadair have a new commander to contend with. Under his rule, the fasgadair have overrun the land and pushed the refugees across the sea to a land from which no one has returned. This book contains two surprise twists that astounded me.

In Aloft, the war against the fasgadair continues, but Fallon’s mind is under assault by Morrigan herself. She grows more isolated from her loved ones until she’s on the brink of despair. Even though I knew it would “be all right in the end,” it was harrowing to watch Fallon suffer through it. She had to reach her nadir before she could rise once more. Don’t worry; this series has a Happily Ever After.

As a character, Fallon is wonderfully flawed and relatable. Well-drawn as a hurting and self-absorbed teen, she becomes more self-aware as the story progresses. She’s also funny! I got a kick out of her sense of humor. I laughed out loud at the pop culture references Fallon dropped that the people of Ariboslia couldn’t understand.

For those who like that sort of thing, there is even a romantic subplot, which seems to be a necessary feature of young adult novels. After some twists and turns, Fallon ends up with a young man, but she also forms lasting friendships and familial bonds.

Aside from the pure entertainment value of this series, I was impressed that Jesus Christ is actually directly mentioned in these books. I’ve read books touted as Christian fantasy, but other than promoting Christian virtues—and being free of foul language, graphic violence and smut—the main feature of Christianity was notable in His absence from the narrative. Were they good reads? Yes, I enjoyed those books. Some of them I’d even read again. However, I appreciated finding a contemporary Christian fantasy that also points to Christ as our savior.

I hope you’ll seriously consider supporting J. F. Roger’s Kickstarter. The world needs more of these wholesome fantasy and faith-affirming stories! More importantly, the world needs to know about the redeeming love of Christ. Here is her website address again to keep track of developments: jfrogers.com.

Why am I doing this? Because I know how challenging it is to be a self-published author. I know how difficult it is to be seen and heard in all the noise. Many days, it feels like I’m just screaming into the void. We all need to help lift one another up; I’m doing my bit to help a fellow sister in Christ.

Oh! By the way… the Wyldling Snare e-book release is only a day away! You can still pre-order and the paperback is already available. You can purchase both through this link: https://mybook.to/wyldlingsnare. If you like YA portal fantasy with a Christian theme—like the Ariboslia trilogy—then you’ll enjoy Wyldling Snare!

Paperback cover, with blurb.

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