About the Book
Author: Karen Hancock
Release Date: April 16, 2022
A Journey She Did Not Choose Will Change Her Life Forever
Transported surreptitiously to a terrifying alien world, with limited resources and only a few cryptic words to guide her, Callie Hayes finds herself engulfed in a perilous battle for freedom – for her very life. After agreeing to participate in a routine psychology research experiment, she must unravel the mysteries shrouding her only route of escape or risk succumbing to the deadly deception of the Arena.
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About the Author
Karen Hancock has won Christy Awards for each of her first four novels—Arena and the first three books in the Legends of the Guardian-King series, The Light of Eidon, The Shadow Within, and Shadow over Kiriath. She graduated from the University of Arizona with bachelor’s degrees in biology and wildlife biology. Along with writing, she is a semi-professional watercolorist and has exhibited her work in a number of national juried shows. She and her family reside in Arizona.
More from Karen
Arena was not my first novel. The Light of Eidon was. In those days, however, Christian publishers were not interested in the fantasy genre because it had too much magic and wizards and such, despite the publication of the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. They were softening to science fiction, however, and thanks to Kathy Tyers, Randy Ingermanson, John Olson and others the door was opened in 2001 for what is called “speculative fiction.” Arena fit right in, and was published by Bethany House in 2002. It went on to win a Christy Award, which started the ball rolling for the Guardian King series. Three out of the four Guardian King books in that series also won Christy Awards, at which point I was the first speculative fiction author inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013.
I am thrilled to have Arena appear again in this 20th anniversary edition with a new cover and in limited-edition hardcover. Oasis Audio will also be producing the audiobook, for the first time, so it can be available for every type of reader.
The start of the book didn’t quite prepare me for the journey ahead. Callie makes a decision to participate in a psychology research experiment which turns her world upside down. It made me wonder why she would even consider such an unusual project with little information. One thought kept going through my mind though. This project will definitely test her ability to trust and make right choices. That thought is something we each have struggled with at some point. Now I was ready to see where Callie’s journey would take her and what lessons she would learn.
The story takes us to a place where survival is key to everything. I was shocked when Callie meets up with a group of people who have been in this weird place for years. Wasn’t she told that there was a way out and it was just an experiment? Why have some of these people been here for years? Who are the strange creatures that are there to destroy any human that gets in their way? The details are vivid and the author makes everything realistic. Danger lurks just outside of their guarded place and someone is always alert to anything strange coming their way.
I did find some interesting subtle hints of Christianity in the story. One such example is when Callie and Rowena are at the sanctuary and the person they meet stops them. They explain that they want to get through the gate. His response is, “The manual says no one can pass through the Gate without Mander’s help.” That instantly made me think of the scripture found in John 14:6 “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Now I was intrigued by what would happen next. You can start to see that Callie is questioning her faith. I liked the inner turmoil she was faced with and thought it was a great example of having faith in what you believe in.
There are a few places in the story where it talks about rape so be warned if this is a trigger for you. Pierce comes to Callie’s rescue but he is hard to figure out at times. I think maybe he is struggling with who to believe. Trust is a big theme in the story and like us, the characters sometimes don’t know if they are making the right decision.
Deep within the story lies a realm where Callie and the others seek to find their freedom. I liked how the armor of God was referenced by the characters talking about making sure they have their armor on in order to move forward. Among them you can smell fear and uncertainty as the time draws near to move to where freedom awaits them. The author really grabbed my attention as I kept following Callie with anticipation of what she would face next. A key factor is making the right choices and Callie starts to doubt that she will ever get back home.
The story for me was like a journey you take to find where your faith is. Do you trust God with everything? Will you find your way back if you get lost or will you be tricked into following evil? The book was good and definitely one that made me understand how important it is to trust in God in all things.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 2
Texas Book-aholic, May 3
Inklings and notions, May 4
For Him and My Family, May 5
deb’s Book Review, May 6
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Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 8
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 9
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Through the Fire Blogs, May 13
To celebrate her tour, Karen is giving away the grand prize of a $40 Amazon gift card and signed copy of Arena!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.