Saturday, October 31, 2009

Travel Into the Arena if You Dare

Today I would like to review an older book that you probably haven't read, but you should have: Arena by Karen Hancock. Take a dash of Pilgrim’s Progress, toss in a good helping of The Matrix, and you get 2003 Christy Award-winning Arena. Talk about a book I couldn’t put down. My teenaged daughter highly recommended Arena to me, and it turned out to be one of the most fascinating and unique novels I have ever read.

Callie Hayes thinks she is signing up for a psychology experiment, but finds herself whisked away to…well, she isn’t quite sure. Is it a holographic fantasy, an alien world, or an alternate reality? All she knows for sure is that she, like everyone else lost in this strange place, is desperate to get back home safely. Along the way she will meet a host of strange creatures, incredible challenges, and bizarre mysteries. This book offers more than just adventure, however. Callie forges many deep relationships with the other victims of this experiment, and learns much about her own desires, about life, and about what is truly important. There's even a little something for romance fans, as she discovers a unique connection with a special man, but can it survive the Arena?

The Arena serves as a backdrop for some of life’s most pressing questions and realities. As Callie and her friends move through different levels and phases of this unusual realm, the relationship to our own spiritual growth and development becomes clear. I particularly liked the concept of “the link,” a way to touch and communicate with “Elhanu” who served as God within the story. The armor given to those who passed through “the Gate” was quickly deactivated by fear and could only be reactivated by reaching within and finding “the link” again. This is so true in our own lives. The parallels to spiritual warfare in this book were exquisite, and clearly demonstrated the power and responsibility of the Christian believer in battling and gaining victory over the enemy.

No less stunning was Hancock’s presentation of how one must first come to God and salvation and the varying struggles people go through in order to find Him. No matter where you are in your walk with God, you will find something within the pages of Arena that will minister to you, enlighten you, and draw you closer to Him.

Although this post was a bit last minute to fill in for a glitch at the Inkwell, I do have a copy of Arena tucked away upstairs as a prize. Leave a comment and your email address in a safe format to enter.


  1. Love Pilgrim's Progress, never read The Matrix, but this sounds like one interesting read. Please enter me.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  2. I've been on a self-imposed deadline the last few days to get a proposal sent off yesterday, so I missed the last couple posts, but am glad I got back on track for this one. I loved Pilgrim's Progress, too. I even own a copy of an 1895 edition that was marked as costing 23 cents, but I paid $5.00 for several years ago. I can remember the first time I heard my 7th grade teacher read PP outloud to us. John Bunyan knew a lot about plot and characters and making things worse and cliff-hangers! This book sounds like something my daughter and SIL would enjoy, so I hope I win so I can give it to them, but I will probably read it myself first! LOL crmcc at setel dot com

  3. Thanks for stopping by ladies.

    Linda, The Matrix is a movie, one of my husband's favorites.

    Rose, glad to have you back.


  4. Good morning, Dina. Great review. I'll have to find a copy of this book. It sounds like an interesting read. Have you read Time Lottery by Nancy Moser? You might like it. I'm not big into fantasy books, but every once it a while there's one that's just so good. I have a fantasy book by Sharon Hinck called The Restorer that I'm looking forward to reading, too.

  5. Yes, Suzie, I have read Time Lottery and I loved it. I have it on my personal blog as a favorite.

    Oh, by the way, if anyone wants to buy Arena, it's out of print, but you can find slightly used versions on Amazon. Whatever you do, don't pay $50 for it. I can buy it at a nearby closeout store and send it to you way cheaper than that :)


  6. Thanks for stepping in Dina. I'm glad you did because I'm always looking for fantasy books I'm happy for my teens to read.

    I'll be looking for Arena and Time Lottery.

  7. Excellent post, Dina. Thank you for stepping in as well as bringing our attention to Arena. It sounds like a fascinating book.

  8. Linda is the winner of Arena. Congrats Linda.


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We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.