The Garden and the Serpent (Dream Traveler’s Quest #3) | Kara & Ted Dekker

The Garden and the Serpent Dream Traveler's Quest Ted Dekker Kara Dekker
The Garden and the Serpent by Ted Dekker, Kara Dekker
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 Final Judgment, 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 #3
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.

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 Garden and the Serpent, the third book in this series, picks up about a week after book two. And just like Theo introduced Annelee to Other Earth in The Curse of Shadowman, the two find a third friend—Danny—to join them this time. (If you’re continuing to play the Name Game at home, Daniel is the name of Ted’s son-in-law, Rachelle’s husband.)

The third seal is all about finding the light amid darkness, so when Danny—who is blind in Real Earth—suddenly has sight in Other Earth, it’s a genuinely heartwarming construct that plays into the theme of the book. Unfortunately Kara and Ted Dekker never really do anything more with it, making Danny’s blindness more of a schtick than a character trait.

The two (for AnneLee stays home) travel with Stokes to the Land of the Mystics where they meet Justin (aka Elyon or the boy.) And it’s in this realm that they are shown how to find the third seal. In the weakest plot construct of the four books, the rest of the book plays out like a video game.

“Through this door you will find a world—a temple, if you will. In that temple, you’ll encounter three rooms on three different levels…Completing one challenge will reveal the door to the next room.”

“Sounds like a video game.”

It’s a completely contrived plot that isn’t that well-constructed and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Both boys are confronted with their deepest fears, but learn to put on the glasses of the Kingdom which enable them to see past their fears and feel confident in their identity as a child of Elyon. Again, it’s a powerful theme—the plot just doesn’t really do it justice.

The Garden and the Serpent seems particularly disconnected from any overarching storyline in Other Earth. It’s almost as if Theo and Danny are in Other Earth to participate in some sort of controlled test or competition or game show. Shadowman appears as the main villain, but within this construct, it’s unclear if he’s “part of the game” or outside of it.

Like the books before it, the thematic elements are okay—though it’s difficult to simplify Dekker’s complex theology into a children’s book—but the literary level is just lacking. While this book doesn’t have as many inconsistencies with the established universe in the Circle, that’s because it’s pretty well disconnected from the Circle. I guess that means my takeaway is that the less you think of these books as taking place within the universe of the Circle, the better they become.


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.