Review: Annals of Wynnewood

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Creatures and dragons and unicorns, oh my!  All those things and more are what you’ll find when you enter the world of Wynnewood, a medieval village in northern England.  You’ll meet Philip, the young apprentice to the town’s fletcher (arrow-maker) and the Ge-sceaft, a frightening creature shrouded in mystery and superstition.  Along with Philip, you’ll soon find that the Ge-sceaft isn’t so fearful a creature at all, but rather a young girl with a mysterious secret.

The Annals of Wynnewood include Shadows and Secrets, Cloaked in Secrets, and the soon-to-be released Beneath the Cloak, which make up the adventure-packed trilogy written by Christian author, Chautona Havig, for kids ages 9-12.

The first book in the series, Shadows and Secrets, introduces you to Philip, a boy of extraordinary character and integrity.  Unwilling to accept the town’s superstitious tales about the Ge-sceaft, he sets about to befriend the creature.  Soon, Philip and “Dove” are fast friends who set out on a series of adventures together.  Interwoven into their adventures are Philip’s recounting of the stories and characteristics of his God, who is not fully accepted in an area filled with polytheistic beliefs.  From discovering that dragons do exist, to saving the village lord’s daughter, Philip and Dove find one adventure after another.

The adventure continues in Cloaked in Secret, with Philip and Dove searching for the mythical unicorns.  Do they really exist?  Will Dove and Philip be able to capture one and tame it for Lord Morgan?  You’ll find out in this second round of adventures, which includes danger, secrets and even war.

The characters in this Christian adventure series are engaging and believable.  Parents will appreciate Philip’s loyalty, work ethic, unfailing integrity, and faith in his God.  Young readers will appreciate his sense of adventure and his bravery.  The books provide a mostly-realistic look into daily life in medieval England, along the lines of Lord of the Rings — complete with detailed maps and ancient vocabulary, alphabetic characters and spellings, but without the wizards.

The books are evangelical in nature, as opposed to many books in the Christian fiction genre which let you know, within the realm of the tale, that they are Christian, but never go much more in-depth than that.  It is Philip’s desire to see his non-Christian friends and neighbors come to know Christ and accept God as the one true God.  The reader will find familiar Bible stories retold in varying degrees of detail, such as Noah and the Ark and the Battle of Jericho.

The book also includes some degree of theology, with an explanation by Philip of the Trinity and occasional discussion between him and Dove as to why God might have done one thing or another.  I don’t think it’s anything that would offend most Christian parents, but, depending on your denominational beliefs, you may want to pre-read the book.  There was also a brief reference to the Pope in which it crossed my mind to wonder if Catholic readers might take offense, but I wasn’t sure since I’m not Catholic and don’t know a great deal about the Catholic faith.

Overall, I found the books to be well-written page-turners that would capture and maintain the interest of young readers.  I enjoy a book where the personalities of even the secondary characters are well-developed and interesting, which I found to the case in the Annals of Wynnewood books…enough so that I’ll probably have to purchase the third book when it comes out so that I can find out what happens!

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.  Your experience may vary.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Wow. I want to read everything. I think I'd like to read the first book in this series, however. Philip and Dove sound fascinating.

  2. i would love to read the wynnewood series with my boys! i'm always looking for great "honorable" fiction to read with them! ~liz

  3. This sounds like a wonderful series that my boys would really enjoy. I'm always on the lookout for books that feature boys to get them into reading the same way their sister is. I'd like to read them too! Thanks for the great review. So, if you haven't already figured it out, the Wynnewood series would be our choice. Thanks!!

    [email protected]

  4. Will have to get this book for my Daughter she loves anything with unicorns, dragons or any mythological creature.

  5. I can't enter since I am Canadian but wanted to thank you for the review. One of my sons reads books faster than I can find new ones. It is especially hard to find Christian fiction for his age and these sound great. I will be ordering them for sure.

  6. The Aggie series looks fun, but I'd probably still pick the Wynnewood books. They sound like they would be great to read with my oldest son.

  7. As a curious Catholic, I'm wondering how they referred to the Pope? Just wondering, since you said it might be offensive but you weren't sure!

  8. @ nottwins — I don't remember, really. I just remember thinking that at the time that I read it. Finding the one or two sentences again would probably be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but, if I get time to look and happen to find it, I'll post it here in the comments.

  9. @nottwins — asked how the stories referred to the pope, if memory serves, the religious leader of the community trained with the monks but chose to go his own way to an extent because he didn't believe it was necessary to follow the customs of the the church so strictly. I don't remember any negative comments directly about the Catholic Church either.

    The series is a wonderful in my opinion. I love it and would love to have a copy to present to my sons' schools or put in our church's library.

  10. I wanted to thank Kris for such an encouraging review. I've been biting my nails for WEEKS wondering what she'd think of it. Thank you, Kris for such a wonderful review, and I really appreciate you giving the "Catholic Caveat."

    The two things that may be offensive to Catholics, in my opinion are…

    1. Brother Clarke has come to different conclusions from the Catholic church on some issues and teaches the village what he thinks is correct. As far as I know, he doesn't disparage the church, just disagrees.

    2. He and Lord Morgan hold a conversation about the Papacy and Brother Clark rejects the need for any pope but Jesus.

    I tried to be respectful of the Catholic church, however it is easy to be offensive when you weren't trying to be. So, if those portions ARE offensive, I do apologize. While I agree with the theology of Brother Clarke (obviously), it wasn't my intent to denigrate Catholicism or Catholics.

    Also, if Kris doesn't mind, I have no objections to shipping books internationally. I'm perfectly happy to ship to Canadians, Aussies, Brits, Germans, or anyone else.

    Kris, feel free to delete that part if you don't want to allow that. 🙂

  11. Oh my! The Aggie series sounds hilarious! But the Wynnewood series is right up our alley as well. Thanks for introducing me to this author!
    kori.ireland at

  12. Oh, Kris, (sorry, windows is messed up on the laptop so I'm working from Linux without email or I'd have emailed.

    If you'd like, just post in a comment, and I'll do a word search through my documents to give you the exact pages any reference to the priests, catholic church, or pope are. I'd be happy to do that if you'd like to save the time in looking.

  13. Yes, that's the part I think that I was thinking of — the conversation between Lord Morgan and Brother Clark. I can't remember how it was worded, but it seems like that's what it was.

    And, yes, I'm happy to open the giveaway up to International readers — I just forgot to clarify beforehand and remembered too late to check before posting the review.

    So, International readers, consider yourselves invited to enter!

  14. I found it. It was the conversation between Bro. Clark and Lord Morgan and, as I've reread it, I doubt it would be offensive, but rather, as Chautona said, a difference in religious beliefs.

    Brother Clark says, "…I do believe that the Lord Jesus is all the Pope we need, and I do not recognize a single, sinless head of the church on earth."

  15. I'd like to read this series as well. I'm always looking for interesting books for my kids, especially ones without questionable language, activities, etc., etc., etc. Some of the books for kids lately are HORRIBLE!

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

    Melanie in KS

  16. Wynnewood would be great for my drag obsessed son & I …it has been hard to find quality fantasy books from a Christian perspective. Thx. Ehren at yahoo dot com

  17. Thanks for the great review . . I daughters are major readers and I have add this to their book wish list. Have a blessed day . . .

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