About the Book:
Book: Demolishing the Stronghold
Author: Allen Brokken
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Release Date: November 4, 2023
Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan finally found respite for their whole family in the grove surrounding the Wellspring of Life. However, the threat of the Dark One’s forces still looms over the Heathlands, and lighting the tower of Light in Blooming Glen is their only hope of cleansing their land of The Darkness once and for all. While the family plans a surprise attack on the stronghold at Blooming Glen, the Bishop calls forth the Calamitous Drake, a monster forged from the essence of The Darkness in the corrupted heart of the Iron Mountain. In the midst of the battle, the monster scatters the family, leaving Mother, Uncle, and Tye in the hands of Lord Refi’Cul and the evil giant Skull Crusher who aims to make Tye his wife and become the Master of the Heath Wardens
The children must take to the skies to forge a weapon capable of defeating the Calamitous Drake. Will Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan’s faith give them the strength to Demolish the Stronghold?
My 11- and 13-year-old sons loved this series, so when the last book became available, I decided to get it, too, and read the books myself. Even though fantasy/allegory is not my favorite genre, I found myself racing through the series, wanting to find out how the children got free of the current attack. Especially this book, the last in the series, was gripping. Because it is fiction, I knew they would win in the end—but how? How could they conquer the evil that was taking over the land and turning everything to Darkness? And, would their friends survive, or would the children be the only ones to live through the battles?
I recommend this book for children 10 years old and older who love action-packed stories. The battles are too intense for younger children, so I won’t be reading these books aloud for a good while yet, and I’m not letting my 8-year-old daughter read them for a couple more years. I love the contrast between good and evil, though. This author has done a great job of portraying the fight between Light and Darkness, God and the Devil in a way that children can understand. One thing my boys did not pick up on, though, until I pointed it out, was that two of the words/names that are hard to read are actually words turned backwards, and knowing the original word made the story more meaningful. Parents may want to find those and explain them to their children. (I’m not going to elaborate more, to avoid spoilers!)
One problem I had with this book, and the rest in the series, was the lack of proofreading. There were frequent typos and grammatical errors which jerked me out of the story. I found them both in print and in digital versions. By the way, you can read my review of the first book in the series here.
About the Author:
Allen Brokken is a teacher at heart, a husband, and a father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. He began writing the Towers of Light series for his own children to help him illustrate the deep truths of the Bible in an engaging and age-appropriate way. He’s dedicated 18 years to volunteer roles in children’s ministry and youth development. Now that his children are off to college, he’s telling stories and sharing clean humor on social media.
More from Allen:
As I worked to close out the Towers of Light series, I had to work hard to develop something new and different that still fit the 1800s frontier setting. I had a lot of pressure from my readers to bring a dragon to the prairie. On multiple occasions, I had to remind my biggest fans that there aren’t any dragons on the prairie. But they were insistent that dragons make an appearance.
So, as I put the final touches on the previous book, Wellspring of Life, I thought that the censors spreading evil could bring evil things into the world to corrupt the prairie. So, the concept of a dragon formed from the censor’s smoke made a lot of sense. But what would a “Smoke Dragon” be like? I shared the idea with my Realm Makers critique group, and they helped form something that early feedback says works well. The dragon’s name, The Calamitous Drake, is also an homage to a line from “The Hobbit” that refers to Smaug as a great calamity.
With a dragon flying about, I also had to devise a way for the kids to engage it in the air. This took significant research as I didn’t want to introduce giant eagles or something else that didn’t exist on the frontier. As I investigated different options, I discovered that hot air balloons were more common in the 1800’s than I thought. It turned out they served in minor roles during the Civil War and used a technology they called a gasifier to fill them up. I took some artistic liberty with that, and Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan now had a way to get off the ground to meet the dragon in the air.
This story was so much fun to write, and early reviews from my biggest fans say it was the perfect end to the series.
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