Elfling by Corinna Turner

by | Jun 30, 2022 | Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Genre

historical fantasy

Audience

middle grade and high school

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2018

Themes

father-daughter relationship, moral absolutes, spiritual vs physical life

Reviewed by

Courtney Guest Kim

Discerning the will of God — and choosing whether to follow it — drives this historical fantasy. Elfling, by Corinna Turner, is a young adult novel set in a fantasy England with Medieval elements such as priests and sorcerers but also a race of elves, and dragonets—miniature dragons that add a charming, whimsical touch to a story that raises unusually serious moral questions. The heroine, Serapia Ravena, goes from rags to riches but also from spiritual ignorance to wisdom over the course of her character trajectory. She is a girl experiencing the changes of puberty but also a moral agent exercising responsibility for decisions whose consequences she does not always foresee. Elfling is a quest story with lots of plot twists and fast-paced action, but Serapia’s quest is a deeply personal one. The young heroine is on a desperate mission to find and keep her father, first for the sake of her own survival, and then for the sake of his. But here too the story operates on a deeper plane, focusing on the possibility of a loss worse than death, the loss of one’s soul.

The essential conflict of the story, and the element that sets it apart as a strikingly Christian narrative, is that the heroine gropes her way not only through material obstacles and human challenges but also wends through a spiritual landscape whose laws are actually more absolute than the laws of physics. The struggle between good and evil plays out between human characters and in a parallel way between elves, for whom the rules of engagement are distinctly spiritual.

Most refreshing about this story is the heroine who is attempting to do the right thing (if she can figure out what that would be) without presuming to define rightness by the standard of her own desires. Rather, she struggles to obtain what she wants while acknowledging that good and evil, right and wrong are determined by God, who has established boundaries that no creature has the right to cross. The story would be worth reading if only for the escape it provides from the asphyxiating self-referentiality that has become normal in both fact and fiction. This heroine is searching for an objective good and recognizes the tension between her own will and the will of God, a tension that in the end can only be resolved by God’s mercy. The young age of the heroine makes the story accessible to mature middle-schoolers, but the seriousness of the theological themes will give food for thought to older readers as well.

Get Catholic Books & eBooks for as little as $1 to FREE

Where to begin with J. R. R. Tolkien?

Beyond the adventure, the way to read The Lord of the Rings is not as an allegory but as a meditation on the human Story we are each caught up in, and in which we each have our part to play, our temptations to resist, and our task to accomplish.

Cinder Allia by Karen Ullo

A political fantasy epic bildungsroman where Allia’s feminine heart becomes as powerful a force has her sword.

Defend the Tabernacle by Deacon Patrick Augustin Jones

Catherine and Bernard get whisked away to do battle on the Soulscape, where the true nature of things is revealed.

Crusader St. Tommy NYPD Book 5 By: Declan Finn

Detective Nolan embarks on a Crusade against demonic sex traffickers trying to raise a demon.

Honor at Stake by Declan Finn

If you’re looking for a vampire-romance with a truly unique twist look no further.

Night Prayer by Brother Bernard Seif, SMC, Ed.D., DNM

The Motto Suaviter Sed Fortiter (Gentle But Strong) informs this historical mystery novel about the founding of the Salesian spiritual family and its various branches.

A Pius Man by Declan Finn

A hilarious espionage action adventure in the Vatican. Also a halberd fight scene. Nuff Said.

A Life Such As Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

A chance encounter with an amnesiac soldier leads Brigid to discover the realities of the Civil War.

The Light of Tara by John Desjarlais

As the power of Rome crumbles, a teenage St. Patrick must decide between his home and sacrificing himself for those who had enslaved him.

Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon By Corinna Turner 

A human-sheep hybrid’s friendships with a friendly vampire and a very angsty house-wolf are tested in this story that explores nature versus nurture. 

From Afar by Roger Thomas

Three astronomers follow the stars in a search for order and meaning. An action adventure based on the three wise men of the Gospels.

The Lost Vessel by Mark Adderley

McCracken joins a treasure hunt for Captain Nemo’s lost ship in this exciting adventure that adds another chapter to Jules Verne’s greatest creation.

Deus Vult By Declan Finn

Detective Nolan returns home for a well-deserved vacation only to find himself fighting hordes of gunmen, Lovecraftian monsters, and a demon straight from the pit.

Cinderella by Charles Perrault

The true story of the Catholic saint who inspired the myth of Cinderella

The King’s Prey by Susan Peek

When the king of Ireland goes insane, Princess Dymphna must embark on a harrowing journey to freedom.

City of Shadows by Declan Finn

St. Tommy uncovers a group of elites using an ancient artifact to destroy London.

Treason by Dena Hunt

When the Queen Elizabeth’s agents are sent to investigate a small town, Protestant & Catholic alike must work together to avert tragedy.

Celtic Crossing by Len Mattano

Relic lost, and faith found.

Hussar by Declan Finn (St. Tommy NYPD Book 8)

It’s been a few years since St. Tommy saved the world. Now his son Jeremy and ward Lena have joined the fight.

War Demons by Russell Newquist

Lots of soldiers have demons, but Michael’s follow him back home. And now a secret order of demon-slayers tell him he has to save the world?!