Friday, January 15, 2010

Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow

Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow is a spell-binding thriller, sure to captivate proficient readers and reluctant readers alike. The Miller Brothers, (Christopher and Allen) have teamed up to bring you a vivid, exciting and sometimes scary fantasy, based on biblical principles.

When Hunter Brown and his friend Stretch play a practical joke on a classmate, they have no idea they are changing the course of their lives. They are rescued from their dumpster hideout by a mysterious man who leads them to an ancient book with a key. Reading the book sends Hunter and Stretch into the strange world of Solandria, where Hunter must escape Dispirits, (servants of the Shadow), and their evil lord, Venator, and prove his allegiance to the Author, and his son, Aviad.

Hunter arrives in Solandria via a grave, and then a cold, dark lake full of dead bodies. He is rescued by Hope, a girl his age. When they can't find Stretch, Hope guides Hunter to the Shard of Sanctuary (an idyllic island) where many have been waiting for him to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Hunter spends his days in training as a Codebearer, and waiting for a summons to meet the Author. However, Hunter is tempted more than once to believe the lies of the Shadow, with dire consequences for his friends.

Eventually, Hunter is taken by a giant bird, called Faith, to the land where he must find the Author. There, he is reunited with Stretch, who has spent his time being leech bait for a giant. He is understandably angry when he hears of Hunter's good fortune, but they escape together as they have been bound at the ankles. When they finally escape, they are surprised at the true identity of the Author. He charges them with the task of returning to Solandria and defeating Venator. Both Venator's identity and Hunter's mistakes in judgement prove surprising as well, and Hunter ends up defeating Venator with not a moment to spare. The defeat costs Hunter his life, but he is "rewritten" and allowed to return home.

What I Like: This is a book to keep you interested and reading well past bedtime. The characters are authentic and likable (although Hunter can make frustrating mistakes) and the descriptions of the lands and creatures are vivid, imaginative, and captivating.

I like the way Hunter's choices have consequences. It is good practice for kids to think though decisions, and reading about Hunter should generate some good discussion and critical thinking.

I enjoyed Hunter's time on the Shard of Sanctuary with Sam, his mentor, learning to be a Codebearer. Codebearers have pledged allegiance to the Author, but are most effective when they study the Code (similar to the Bible) daily and depend on his wisdom.

What I Dislike: By now, those of you have read my other posts may have realized I am fairly wimpy when it comes to reading scary material. I am still prone to nightmares (at my age!) and am careful with what my own kids read. The first section of this book is quite scary--Hunter is being chased by violent Dispirits (shadowy, ghost-like creatures) and has to navigate through dead bodies in a lake and escape through an ominous forest. Hunter's time in the Shard of Sanctuary is a welcome retreat.

The last section of the book is scary as well. (Plot-spoilers ahead. . . ) Hunter confronts Venator, and realizes they are one and the same, and he accidentally kills Hope with his sword. Neither of these events are resolved well (perhaps to be dealt with in the sequel). I think the Miller Brothers are illuminating the concept of dying to ourselves to live in Christ, but it wasn't overtly stated.

The other thing I didn't like is when Hunter meets the Author, he is ready to offer allegiance to Him forever. This reminded me of a salvation moment, but the Author tells Hunter he must go defeat Venator first. Perhaps the Miller Brothers didn't mean it this way, but it seemed to make salvation conditional. This makes the parallel between God and the Author inaccurate. We are saved by faith alone, and are not required to do anything to earn our salvation, but Hunter must complete a prescribed task first.

Overall Rating: Very good as an action/adventure story; Good in terms of theology

Age Appeal: Publisher lists 9-12, but I would say only if they aren't easily frightened, and high school students would enjoy it as well.

Publisher Info: Warner Press, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-59317-328-9; Paperback, $13.99

Buy it Now at for $10.99

OR Buy it at for $11.19

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The Miller Brothers said...

Hi Erin, this is Allan Miller of the Miller Brothers. We don't know each other, but I happened upon your review of our book "Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow" through a google search. Just wanted to write and thank you for taking the time to read our book and review it so thoughtfully with the readers of your blog... and to offer an apology for any trauma our story's more "intense moments" might have caused you :) We hope that in it all the encouraging message of a "greater hope" is seen.

With Warm Regards,
Allan Miller / The Miller Brothers

Anonymous said...


I am so glad you read the review. No worries re: trauma--I just liked all the characters and got involved in the story! I am about to start "Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire," so look for the review before long. I look forward to reading more of your work.