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A Distant Shore 

by John Houghton


Religious allegory is not everyone's thing. It can be a big turn-off for some, and any poorly written allegory is almost sure to be thus for most readers. Fortunately, A Distant Shoreavoids that fate by being a well-written allegory. In the tradition of Bunyan's Pilgrim'sProgress, Hurnard's Hind's Feet on High Places, or even (arguably) Lewis's Narnia series,A Distant Shore is well-written, and it offers some real meat in its food-for-thought offerings.


The novel is a modern allegory, written for the contemporary mind. That seems a little odd, since allegory and things such as morality plays have gone completely out of vogue today. But it struck me, while reading, that A Distant Shore is what you'd get if you crossed Francis Shaeffer's apologetic writings with the likes of Pilgrim's Progress. It deals with schools of thought that would be more typical of today's world, but does so in a fashion that is in line with an older form of writing. In the course of the narrative, the tension between old and new, contemporary and traditional in the arts is addressed, and that made me smile as well, in reading this tale that so neatly deals with this tension.


While the story did not move me on the emotional plane in the way Hind's Feet on High Places or the Narnia books did/do, I think that has more to do with the time in life I am encountering it (midlife for this one, childhood and teen years for the other two) than with the quality of the writing. But even so, I think this book is best met in adulthood, as some of the topics addressed are struggles that might not mean as much to younger readers. It is a mature book, which I mean in the best possible way. It is engaging, well-written, and thought-provoking, and would be a good addition to the shelf of anyone who enjoys a good story.


© Shelly Bryant, 2012

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