Out of the Darkness (The Dream Traveler’s Game #7) – Ted Dekker and HR Hutzel

Out of the Darkness by Ted Dekker, HR Hutzel
Also by this author: The Promise, The Drummer Boy, Sinner, Green, The Dream Traveler's Quest, Into the Book of Light, The Curse of Shadownman, The Garden and the Serpent, The Final Judgment, Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion, The Boy and His Song, The Warrior and the Archer
Series: The Dream Traveler's Game #7
Published by Scripturo on October 17, 2023
Genres: Children's, Fiction, Fantasy
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Three years have passed since Theo traveled to another dimension and discovered his identity in the Light. He’s more mature now and terrible trouble has swallowed him once more. When all hope seems to be lost, Theo is sucked into a virtual reality game set in an entirely new medieval world that is descending into chaos, as a small group of rebels seek to rescue their kingdom from the dark lord Marsuuv's rule. There, Theo, now a member of the rebels, must discover who he really is beyond the game—a fourteen year old boy in Florida who is a child of the light. A thrilling discovery of truth, perfect for young readers in today’s chaotic world. Ages 8 and older.

We now reach the third and final The Dream Traveler’s Game book. Theo and Annelee are searching for a waystation, ready to move into the third stage of the game. They still need to save the Princess. They still need to free Viren from the clutches of Marsuuv. And they still need to find a Book. The story, frankly, has been a mess up until now and Out of the Darkness does precious little to bring it all together.

However, I will say that Out of the Darkness is the most compelling of all three books. Marsuuv finally plays a prominent role. He’s now captured the two—Theo is now a savant, Annelee remains an archer—and is taking them to the Dark Forest to meet the Princess…and her lover, Teeleh.

And it’s here that the overarching plot shifts. It’s for the better, but it’s too late. It’s also just a rehash of the Circle trilogy. Teeleh doesn’t just want to conquer Viren. He’s trapped in the Dark Forest. But if he can get his claw on the Book, he can rewrite the game’s code and escape not just the Dark Forest but the video game world entirely.

Dekker and Hutzel give a little more clarity on the spiritual lessons of the series, along with the interesting twist that being a savant—wise in one’s own eyes—might just be a liability instead of something that helps. It’s engaging, but confusing. And it all leads to a rather predictable end. There’s so much to this series that had potential and it just feels like it wasn’t sketched out well enough. The ever-changing avatars prevent character development. Teeleh overshadows Marsuuv as the big bad, which feels jarring. Is Teeleh part of the game or an intrusion into it? We never know. The stakes don’t feel real because it’s literally a video game. Talya is absent and unhelpful. The pieces of a good story were here, but they just don’t cohere into anything. I’ve enjoyed Dekker’s other middle-grade work—especially his collaborations with Rachelle—but these just don’t work for me.


About Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author of more than forty novels. He is best known for stories which could be broadly described as suspense thrillers with major twists and unforgettable characters, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans. Dekker’s novels have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Two of his novels, Thr3e and House, have been made into movies with more in production. Dekker resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Lee Ann and two of their daughters.