Monday, June 6, 2016
"Will Wilder" ... Nice try, but
Raymond Arroyo of EWTN has been endlessly self-promoting his children/young teens book Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls. I spotted a copy at our local Catholic shop and wanting to give him some support I bought it.
It was a quick read. That's good.
Second, let me say that it's wonderful Arroyo tells his children original stories.
Third, let me compliment him on actually finishing the writing of a novel. I certainly didn't finish that one I've been working on off and on for years.
As for the book, though, while it is not awful, it certainly is not very good.
There are plot holes. Some of the characters' actions seem hard to believe. (I'm not talking here about fantasy elements; I'd be fine with that. But some characters simply act in ways that ring false even in a fantasy novel.) The secondary characters are too flat. The dialogue at times seems silly and forced. The forces of evil are simply not evil or threatening enough. The fantasy and adventure elements don't always work.
Some examples: There's a hidden pagan temple that no one seems to explore or even know about except for the "informed"? How did a pagan temple get built there in the first place? There's an underground entrance to the Keep that no one seems to notice, yet three boys are able to enter it easily? Will's friends are trapped in chambers filling with water, and he just deserts them? What kind of hero is that? Will's dad sees all kinds of monsters, yet continues to try to ignore them even though they nearly killed his wife and children?
Were this written in the 1920s or 30s Arroyo might be able to get away with some of these things - and some of the dialogue and characters - but not in 2016.
I finished the book, but quickly added it to the pile of books to be donated to the library.
Again, let me say this is not an awful book. I've read worse - including a number of books aimed at Catholic or Christian audiences. And the underlying idea is an interesting one. And some young, less discerning readers might enjoy it.
But, sorry Mr. Arroyo. You might be a great dad and you have served EWTN well, but this effort falls short.
Pax et bonum