Arena by Karen Hancock is one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE NOVELS EVER! So naturally I was super-excited when I read this blog post by the author and found out it was being republished and repackedged (with a new look) by Bethany House. Then I made a shocking discovery! I’ve never reviewed Arena! Gross negligence! How could I have let this happen?! Ok, so here it is.
I discovered Arena while shelving new fiction at my library. The cover looked interesting, but I would have blown right by it if I hadn’t seen the publisher on the back. Wait, Bethany House? That’s Christian fiction…? So I read it and the rest is pretty much history. I always loved Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings, but I didn’t realize that Christian Fantasy, Science Fiction or Allegory existed as a genre unto itself. (It’s called “Christian Speculative Fiction.” Read this interview for more information if you’re interested.) Arena opened up a whole new world for me. I discovered Kathy Tyers, Stephen Lawhead, Sharon Hinck, Chris Walley, and Donita K. Paul just to name a few. All wonderful authors, but Karen Hancock set a standard with Arena that, in my opinion, has yet to be matched.
Summary ~ Callie Hayes is living a life of fear and disillusionment when she volunteers for a psychology experiment that promises to turn her life around. As her orientation proceeds, Callie becomes frightened by the secrecy and evasion she encounters. When she demands to be released from the program, she is suddenly dropped into a terrifying alien world and into a perilous battle between good and evil. With limited resources and only a few cryptic words to guide her, Callie embarks on a life-changing journey. Will she decipher the plans the Benefactor has established for her escape, or will she succumb to the deception of the Arena?