In Kessandra’s world, only an elect few are allowed magic. They are the worthy, and every young elf with magic must make a choice: join the tyrannical elite or be drained of their magic. When Kessandra makes her choice, it has terrible consequences. Her brother Rinnen is devastated and resolves to do whatever it takes to get his sister back. But what can he, a young trainee, do against the mighty clerics?
To Be Called Worthy is a Christian fantasy novel by Penny Johnston. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review and to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. Elves are not really my thing and new authors usually have a lot to improve upon. Thankfully, the book was a lot better than I thought it would be.
I appreciated the portrayal of the Maker (aka God). It was very beautiful. It was also interesting how the culture of the elves in the book is more interested in shame and worthiness whereas ours is more about punishment and mercy. The great things is: Jesus’ sacrifice works either way! I didn’t think it was a great idea to make the villains be clerics. I know that they, in the end, are clearly shown to not actually be on the Maker’s side, but I feel it perpetuates myths about the negative role of the church throughout history. Some of the content was also a bit too edgy for me, even when the author clearly condemned it. That’s just me, though.
The family relationships in this book were very cute, and I loved seeing both men and women treat the bonds as important. I feel we miss that a lot in books, with people gravitating more towards “found family.” That’s nice, but it’s a lot better when the actual family is being modeled as a good institution. What I liked less when it came to relationships was the romance. It felt rather forced to me, as if the author wanted it to be there but didn’t know exactly how to go about making it so.
Mental problems are portrayed in a very magical way. By that I don’t mean in a glittery way, but in the sense that we can basically take a look inside someone with problems. I’m going to admit I didn’t always get how it worked, but the main idea got through and it was pretty cool. On the other hand, I disliked how a certain mentally disabled character starts talking like a child. The reason I disliked it is because it didn’t actually sound like the speech of a child. Dumbing down grammar and leaving out words, etc. doesn’t automatically make it “childish.” I don’t really know how people with mental disabilities talk, having only met a few of them, but I’m pretty sure they don’t talk that way either.
I would recommend To Be Called Worthy for Christian fantasy lovers. There are plenty of funny, exciting and emotional moments, and the message about forgiveness and elevation through Christ was portrayed well. There are some lesser sides to the book, but that’s normal and they’re not bad enough as to be incredibly distracting. Of course, it’s also a nice way to support indie Christian authors who are trying to make the world of literature a better place.