Beyond The Attic Door, by Tracy Del Campo
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review.]
One of the benefits of reading and reviewing books on a regular basis is that it gives writers encouragement about getting in touch with me about reading their books. I doubt I would have read this book otherwise, as it is published by Westbow Press (the self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson Books), and is not a genre of books I normally read. That said, this short book is a pleasant read, being about 90 short pages of children’s religious fantasy, with a tinge of history. Without giving spoilers, it is hard to say too much of the book, but I will do my best to keep the spoiler quantity down and give a review of this novella at least on a broad level. The novel is set mainly in June 1925, at the time the Scopes Monkey Trial is starting, and concerns a household of intelligent Bible believers wrestling with the questions of the Theory of Evolution. The novel smartly points out, very subtly, the sort of hostility to Biblical belief possessed by many in the scientific and academic community, which makes it all the more ironic that scientists prefer to remember the biased reportage of Inherit The Wind, which makes them out to be the victims of fundamentalist rubes. This story is remarkable and notable in its inversion of this image, not only by showing a family of gently feuding but ultimately caring believers of an intelligent and honest character, but also by showing the hostility between atheism and belief.
About halfway through the story, there is an interesting turn as one of the characters seeks to prove the existence of God and biblical history beyond a reasonable doubt. At this point the novel takes a fantastic turn, with dubious claims involving mistaken biblical interpretations of Genesis (not very uncommon, for better or worse, and not ultimately damaging to the enjoyment of the novel as a novel). This particular novella reminded me, at least in part, of a Madaleine L’Engel novel I read in my youth, but whose title I have forgotten, whose plot involved twin brothers of the heroine of A Wrinkle In Time who were sent to the period of Noah’s flood. It is an enjoyable read that has at least one profound point: no matter what evidence one could uncover about God or the workings of God in human history, it will never prove God to the satisfaction of those who wish to reject His authority. With this immensely sobering thought, the novella closes. This is a story that could be read in fifteen or twenty minutes by a sufficiently speedy reader, and is designed particularly for younger readers, but it has enough depth to be of some interest to an older reader who wants to ponder the Christian response to the libels about the inverse relationship between religious belief and reason and intellect.