Monday, January 14, 2008

The Shadow of the Bear - Regina Doman

If you are looking for a wholesome and entertaining adventure book for a girl who is of an age to be interested in clothes and boys, you don't want to miss this one. By a Catholic mother of (at last count) seven children, The Shadow of the Bear is the first in what recently became a trilogy that continues with Black as Night and Waking Rose.

My 15 year old daughter tore through the first book in about a day, finished the second the next day, and asked how soon we could get the third, which we recently obtained. She has lent the first one to a friend, who also loved it and is asking for the others. Her thirteen year old sister is now reading them, too.

I now have read all three books and, while they may never be studied in great literature classes, they were competently written and engaging. They were a little too heavy on descriptions of clothing, feelings, and relationships for this middle aged man, but I suspect that is part of their appeal to my daughters. The heros and heroines are virtuous, reverent, and chaste, and respect each other for it. They also all seem to be fans of G.K. Chesterton.

Parental discretion is advised for the third book in the series, which turns in large part on the self doubts of a male character who was apparently sexually abused at various times in his life and, while the author tries to handle this with discretion (so that it may not be fully understood by younger readers), it may be a little heavy for children under 16 or so.

The books are based on Grimm's Fairy Tales, and I enjoyed seeing how the characters are translated to a modern setting. For example, the seven dwarves in the forest become seven friars in the south Bronx (who bear a suspicious resemblance to the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal founded by Father Benedict Groeschel). The fairy tale origin has a few minor drawbacks. For one thing, since the characters in those old fairy tales always seem to be getting betwitched and falling into a deep sleep, the people in the books fall into and emerge from perhaps one too many comas. I doubt that this will bother many young teens, though.

Author Regina Doman has a website with more information about her, her interests, and her books, at

I wish there were more books like this. If you know of any, for girls or boys, please tell me about them.

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