About a month or so back, I was speaking with Heather Marie Reaves about her upcoming re-release of Keepers of the Flame, her debut Christian Young Adult / Children’s Fantasy novel, and she asked if I would like to be one of her BETA readers. Of course I said yes! Getting to read a book before it gets officially released kind of feels like getting back-stage passes to a concert. And, to be honest, I’m glad I got this chance!
Heather and I have been online friends for a couple of months now. We met on Instagram in an independent author support group, and after talking for a bit, we realized we both are writing similarly themed books, though her book is meant for a younger audience. I’ve been looking forward to reading the book, as well as the accompanying lesson plan she wrote for Sunday School teacher to use her novel as part of their lessons.
However, at the point when I was about to purchase a copy, the book went out-of-print. Ever since, I’ve been bugging her every few weeks asking when it would be ready, so getting a chance to read it while it’s still being working on, and to have my insights and suggestions be included in the re-write was really the best thing that could have happened.
But enough about me, let’s talk about the book. Keepers of the Flame tells the story of seven young teens who are all the first-born children of their families, which means, by this birthright, they are sworn to become Keepers. Some of them welcome this, and some of them aren’t that happy to be going, yet because of their parents demands, they still go.
The first time the teens meet each other is when they board the ship that will take them to Lucernas, the place where they will spend a few years training to become Keepers. New friendships are forged, and as is expected, some tension forms between some of the group. Still, when they arrive in Lucernas to begin their training, they have to find ways to work together.
Without giving up too much of the story, there are several challenges the teens must face beyond just learning how to co-exist. One of those is that the tradition of becoming Keepers is something that has been dying out in their world, and it is considered that this group may very well be the last of those to accept the role of Keeper.
This reduction in desire to participate in the familiar traditions of their culture is very much like the challenges the Christian faiths are facing in a world that is advancing technologically so fast it is hard to keep up. The author does a great job of translating the issues and concepts of the Christian faith into this fictional world, without over-proselytizing or creating situations that could be considered blasphemous. As an author who writes in the same genre, I know how hard this balance can be.
Heather, who has attended the Tennessee School of Ministry, has been a Sunday school teacher, a youth sponsor, and has also started a college/young adult ministry. Similar to the way that I began writing my series, Heather was looking to help young people understand the Christian faith in a way that was both educational and interesting. Her choice to write a series of fantasy novels to accomplish this was perfect.
The author is not only a great story-teller, but writes in a way that makes ready simple, easy and fun. I look forward to re-reading the story after it has officially been re-released, and also getting the additional books in the series as they come out. If this style of book is of interest to you, why not follow Heather on her website or through social media? Here are the links where you can find her: