Monday, July 31, 2017

The Gates of Heaven Series: Fairy Tales for Grown Ups

Pin It Now! Fairy Tales for Grown Ups

I had the privilege of reading the first two books in The Gates of Heaven Series by C. S. Lakin years ago when I reviewed products for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. I'm sharing these slightly edited reviews here because I know how difficult it can be to find decent, clean fiction in the fantasy genre. If you're like me and LOVE fantasy fiction, you may want to give this series a try.

Book 1: The Wolf of Tebron

All Joran wants is “to live a simple, peaceful life, raise a family, work with his hands.” But, his reality is shattered when his wife suddenly disappears in a burst of magic.

A mysterious, old woman—known as The Goose Woman—reveals that he must travel to the house of the Moon in order to free her. Instead of enjoying the simple life of a blacksmith, Joran embarks on a treacherous journey “looking for a tricky Moon, a wayward wife, and a sea he only knew from his dreams.”

The Wolf of Tebron is C.S. Lakin’s first novel in “The Gates of Heaven series.” Lakin writes in classic fairy tale style where magic, fantasy, and the forces of good versus evil abound. Rich in vibrant language, adventure, personification, and more, this allegory offers the reader more than just a thrilling story. As Lakin says, “Joran’s journey inspires and encourages readers to focus on our deep purpose and meaning in life.”

Joran, the main character, faces many outward obstacles during his quest, but we learn it is the battle within that must be faced and conquered in order for him to truly succeed. This is a point, I believe, with which all of us can identify and apply to our own lives. Ruyah, the wolf, is also a very important character and becomes Joran’s constant encourager and companion—a true friend who shows sacrificial love. As they travel together, the wolf extends much wisdom by quoting Scripture and many famous people such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Elliot, William Wordsworth, and more.

A discussion of The Wolf of Tebron is included at the end of the book. Lakin explains her motive for writing the book and including literary elements like allegory and metaphor. She also provides fifteen thought-provoking questions designed for book club discussions, high school English classes, and the homeschool environment. As I was reading, I compiled a list of over 50 vocabulary words that I will add to these questions.


The novel itself is 246 pages long and because of its profound and comprehensive themes, I will be waiting a couple of years to introduce it to my oldest who is currently in sixth grade. Possibly, it would be a great read-aloud to a younger child who is mature for his/her age. Parents, though, may need to explain definitions of unfamiliar words and meanings of symbolic elements. I really enjoyed reading The Wolf of Tebron. I recommend it to teens and adults who love a good, allegorical fairytale. For in-depth study, it would be great reading material for a high school English class.


Book 2: The Map Across Time

The Map Across Time is C.S. Lakin’s second novel in The Gates of Heaven series. It's an allegorical fantasy series in which various characters must endure trial and hardship in order to prevent evil from spreading throughout the kingdom of Sherbourne.

In The Map Across Time, a young, slightly handicapped prince sets out on a quest to find a rare and magical firebird in order to rescue his beautiful twin sister from a forced marriage and to hopefully win his father’s love and acceptance.

The book opens with 10-year-old twins, prince Adin and princess Aletha. They hover over their dying mother as she breathes her last words. It isn’t until many years later that the twins realize a great and terrible evil has been silently and slowly growing right under their very noses—an evil that may have played a role in their mother’s death. With the kingdom in jeopardy and their father going mad, it is up to the Adin and Aletha to travel across time to discover the remedy for a curse which threatens to overtake their land.


Though independent of its prequel, The Wolf of Tebron, it shares many similarities. Scripture is artfully sprinkled throughout and quoted or paraphrased by several characters. The exact locations are different in each book, but the settings take place in the same overall region and time period. While most characters are unique, one in particular reveals a connection between the two books linking his name with a previous village. I didn’t mind that the second novel wasn’t a continuation of the first. The subtle ties between The Wolf of Tebron and The Map Across Time make this imaginary land believable.

As a lover and avid reader of fairy tales, it’s been nice being able to read a series specifically written for an older crowd. I admit that I find myself all too often in the juvenile fiction section of the library with a pile of books to check out for myself—not my kids! The Map Across Time includes all of the elements you’d expect in children’s fantasy—magic, symbolism, metaphor, sacrificial love, and good versus evil—but the main characters experience life’s trials and triumphs as adults.

The Map Across Time is 428 pages long. It includes a glossary of the Law’Az—an ancient language, a discussion of the novel, and a scripture reference page. It’s divided into four parts: Prophecy, The Gates of Heaven, The Destroyer, and The Deliverer.


I don’t plan on giving up fairy tales anytime soon since they seem to mirror my reality, encouraging me to be all that I can be in my own world! I recommend The Wolf of Tebron and The Map Across Time to all who wish to keep the magic of fairy tales alive long after childhood.

Here are the final two books in The Gates of Heaven Series. I haven't read either of them yet - my library only carries the first two. :( When I have a few extra dollars, I may just buy them for my Kindle. Although, it would be nice to own the set in paperback since I already have the first two. :)


  Click here if you'd like to know more about the author, C. S. Lakin.

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