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, Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion, Millie Maven and the Golden Vial, Lulu The Lost Rubber Ducky, Monty and the Tree of Light, Barton the Dream Jumper
Series: The Dream Traveler's Quest #4
Published by Outlaw Studios on September 2018
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Children's, Fantasy
What if you could find a way to enter another reality full of wild and life changing adventure? And what if every time you fell asleep you woke up in that other reality? Welcome to the world of Theo Dunnery, a twelve year-old boy who feels alone and full of fear when he stumbles on an ancient book that draws him into another world.
In that world, he learns he must complete a quest to find the Five Seals of Truth if he is to conquer his fears. Facing great odds and many enemies, Theo sets off on the adventure of a lifetime to discover who he really is as the son of Elyon, and overcome the darkness that has haunted him for so long.
Join Theo on The Dream Traveler's Quest, one story told in four chapter books. Read all four and discover the truth for yourself.
(ed. note: These reviews are written from the perspective of an adult comparing this series to the Circle. Someone coming at the story with no previous knowledge may have a different perspective.)
The Dream Traveler’s Quest is a four-book series written by Kara and Ted Dekker that pairs with Ted Dekker’s Beyond the Circle duology that released around the same time. Written for ages 7-12, The Dream Traveler’s Quest follows Theo Dunnery, who stumbles upon an ancient Book of History that sucks him into another world. Here, Theo learns to overcome his loneliness and fear through the Five Seals: five statements of truth that Ted Dekker developed in his non-fiction work, The Way of Love. But the journey won’t be easy, evil bats and school bullies will conspire to stop Theo from discovering his identity as the son of Elyon.
The Final Judgment (Dream Traveler’s Quest #4) wraps up the series by directing Theo to seals four and five. Unlike the other books, there’s no delay here. Asher, the school bully, has taken the Book of History and entered Other Earth. It’s up to Theo, Annelee, and Danny to crossover and stop whatever nefarious scheme the Shataiki have planned for him.
Up to this point, I’ve not talked about the illustrations. They’re serviceable. Not graphic novel quality, but okay for a children’s book. But on page 11, we get the sentence
“There, on the bed, with the book wide open, lay Asher, seemingly dead to the world…Theo squinted and focused on the open pages of the book…”
And then we have an illustration—of the book pages downward, resting against Asher’s chest. What is said and what is shown don’t match. It’s a rather good illustration of some of the internal inconsistencies that drove me crazy in this series.
With the Book of History out of the picture, Kara and Ted Dekker introduce a new mechanic for crossing between worlds: water from the Green Lakes. What does this mean? Is it different from the Red Lakes? Who knows? It’s not explained. Just a convenient plot device to move the story forward that creates an inconsistency in the Dekker lore.
The final two seals carry the theme of there not being any fear in love. This is what the series has been building toward. Theo needs to learn to love his enemy and his enemy as Elyon sees him. He needs to see Asher as a child of God.
The find Asher rather quickly, astride a Shataiki, seemingly well-acquainted and acclimated to the world. He throws some dust in Danny’s eyes—Danny who is blind in Real Earth and can only see in Other Earth. The dust blinds him, and then there’s the terrifying follow-up:
“If you don’t find the cure in twenty-four hours, he won’t have eyes at all back home. They’ll burn out and take some of your brain, too.”
Umm…yikes. Up to this point, Asher has been a bully—hitting, pushing, calling names—but suddenly he’s the worst villain in this series, eclipsing even Ba’al. It’s a shocking turn that doesn’t quite fit the tone of the books up to this point. Asher also kidnaps Annelee and leaves Theo to decide which of his friends he will save.
Things happen. Then Theo is learning the fourth seal from Elyon the boy himself. There’s a scene where Elyon puts him and Theo in a hot air balloon weighed down with sandbags. The sandbags represent fear and, with each fear Theo gives over to Elyon, he cuts a bag off and the balloon soars.
It’s a powerful metaphor that’s evocative of Peter says “Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you” or John Bunyan’s Christian having his burden relieved at the foot of the cross. It’s a beautiful, simple story that gets its point across quite well.
It ends as it was always going to: Theo discovers the fifth seal by loving his enemy, the Shataiki are defeated, and the group return to their Earth where they live HAPPILY EVER AFTER THE END.
The plot struggles with pacing—dealing with two seals instead of one—and determining when and how to hold on to a character. Asher’s transformation never feels earned because he’s not a character that we’ve ever cared about. Even the revelation about why he might be a bully just isn’t compelling.
While the book has some powerful scenes—okay, a powerful scene—it really squanders Asher’s redemptive arc by not focusing on his character development in the first three books and trying to rush it all here in book four. So the major turn of the book, and of the series, just falls flat and leaves The Dream Traveler’s Quest to just sort of sputter to an ignoble end.
While this was good in concept, the execution was lacking. With some added time in development and plotting, these really good have been great. Instead we get glorified Dekker fan-fiction. (But then again, that’s how I think of Green as well.)