Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Between Two Kingdoms

Between Two Kingdoms, by Joe Boyd, is a powerful allegory about living in the last days of Earth. Reminiscent of Pilgrim's Progress, but less didactic, Between Two Kingdoms tells the story of Tommy, Mary and their friends, who are given a chance to leave the Upper Kingdom (Heaven) and return to the Lower Kingdom (Earth), in order to prepare people for the last attack of the enemy. Tommy, Mary and Bobby live in the Upper Kingdom, where they are eternally seven years old, have continual access to the King and His son, the Prince, live on a diet of warm cookies and milk and spend their days building tree houses. Only their love for the Prince makes them willing to travel to the Lower Kingdom, which is ugly, polluted and ruled by the Dark Prince.

Tommy, Mary and Bobby are afraid, but are willing to appear as grown-ups and relive painful memories, in order to serve the Prince and persuade people to seek shelter in His life-giving River. The Dark Prince has devised a scheme to cast the entire Kingdom into darkness, in an effort to make people forget the light and doubt the love of the Great King and the Prince. The children soon meet Pops and Roger, who mentor them and teach them how to reach people who have forgotten about the King. The children and their mentors all have important roles to play before the Dark Prince and his Phantoms can be defeated and the separation between the worlds can be bridged.

This book is a unique and memorable allegory, comparing the Long Night to the end times, and using personality traits to define characters and remind us where our true allegiance should lie. Most compelling is Tommy's struggle to accept the role of leader, while retaining the gift of humility the Prince has given him. The Dark Prince appears kind, wise and attractive, but at the last moment, Tommy understands his true nature and remains loyal to the King. In the end, many people are saved, the Long night is ended, and the children are reunited, to share a breakfast of cookies and milk once more.

What I Like: I like the way the characters are presented as both seven-year-olds, and adults. I am embarrassed to admit I was half-way through the book before I remembered Jesus' words, ". . . unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Boyd is creative and innovative in his portrayal of the kingdom of Heaven.

I also like how appealing the Dark Prince is. Of course, I didn't like the Dark Prince, but I think we often expect Satan to appear in a blatantly evil manner. We are reminded several times in this book things are not always as good as they seem.

There are also several true heroes in this story, both male and female and young and old. This tale will appeal to people of all ages and walks of life.

What I Dislike: This book is small (6 1/2" by 5+") and the type is also small. I am afraid this may make it seem overwhelming to more reluctant readers, even though the story is engaging and fast-paced.

I also had a hard time keeping the names straight. I am guessing Boyd used diminutive forms of names (Tommy, Bobby, Joey, etc. . .) to remind us of the characters' true nature as children, but it got confusing at times.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: not listed, but I would say 12 and up (older adults may enjoy it as well)

Publisher Info: Standard Publishing, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-7847-2358-6; Paperback, $9.99

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Unknown said...

Thank you for your review and helping spread the word about Between Two Kingdoms! I work for Standard Publishing, the publishing house for Joe Boyd's book. Thank you for taking the time to review this book. We really appreciate it!

Erin said...


I am glad you saw the review. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Between Two Kingdoms, and I know many of our readers will enjoy it as well. I hope to see more of Boyd's writing in the future!


Shirley Ann said...

This looks like a very intriguing read for children. Sadly, I think allegories are a dying breed. They are somewhat rarer than they used to be. (And furthermore, very difficult to write.) But I am happy to see this one, it looks well done.

Thanks for the review, it definitely sounds like something worth looking into to.