Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam by R.K. Mortenson

Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam is the second book in a series of Christian fantasy adventures by R.K. Mortenson published by Barbour Publishing. In the first book, Landon snow and the Auctor’s Riddle, the title character discovers a magical world while visiting his grandparents in Bottom Up, Minnesota. Through his adventure in this other world Landon is forced to think about what brings meaning and purpose to life. He learns that the “auctor” or author/creator of the universe is the source of meaning and that He has a plan for Landon.

In this second book Landon is heading back to Bottom Up during President’s Day Weekend. The day of the trip he is distracted wondering if he will again find an entrance to the magical world and see his friends. With all of this bottled up inside of him, when his sister Holly teases him about a girl at school he blurts out his secret. Holly is skeptical to say the least, but agrees to give Landon the chance to prove her wrong.

Sure enough, both Landon and his sister end up traveling through the tunnel that leads to Bottom Up’s famous library. Once in Wonderwood, like her brother before her, Holly is caught under the spell of Ludo and the great coin. But that isn’t the worst part, weird creepy shadows are taking over Wonderwood under the power of Malus Quidam. Landon must work with his friends Vates, Tardy Hardy, and Melech to save his sister and Wonderwood itself.

While the Auctor’s Riddle focused on the search for knowledge and meaning, the Shadows of Malus Quidam focuses more on faith and courage. Landon will need courage to get through this adventure and save his sister as he faces the dark and unnerving shadows. He gains courage from his faith, realizing that he is never alone and that the Auctor is always with him. He has faith that the plan will be revealed.

The second book has less exploration of magical worlds and a more traditional story line, but it compensates with deeper character development; particularly Landon. Mortenson has developed an admirable lead character. Landon is good natured but not perfect by any means. He has a good relationship with his sister despite the typical trials and tribulations siblings encounter.

Mortenson does a good job of illustrating the faith of the characters without making it seem out of place or forced. Landon wrestles with both what his faith means in terms of the big picture of his life, but also with how it impacts his decisions. Of course a lot of this is filtered through his adventures but Mortenson captures the little things too. The first chapter of Shadows, for example, is a brisk and witty introduction as we reconnect with Landon and his life. It does a great job of capturing the mind of an eleven year old.

All in all, the Landon Snow books are quality entertainments that take the Christian faith seriously. They aren’t really blockbuster type works, but rather short, fun adventures with a positive message weaved in with minimal distraction. I am sure they will continue to sell well in the Christian market.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

1 Comment

  1. Kevin, I find my own critical literary thought enriched by the essays at
    At least some of the contributors are from Biola University (John Mark Reynolds, for one).
    Here is an excerpt of what Fred Sanders has to say about ‘Christian Romance,’ which was especially important during the Middle Ages, though Sanders here focuses on the 19th.

    –excerpt–(Romance)..’could also mean “A blending of the heroic, the marvellous, the mysterious, and the imaginative, in actions, manner, ideas, language, or literature.” This caught his eye.
    This second definition permits my use of the word, for the history of the Bible is a romance. It is a blending of the heroic, the marvellous, the mysterious, the full significance of which only the imagination can grasp. It is wonderful in its history. It transcends the ordinary. So it is a romance.’

    Calvinism (and I wonder if your modern Christian fantasy is from that tradition) has scarcely tolerated the Christian imagination. But other parts of the Church have embraced that part of the spirit wholeheartedly. (I am thinking of Arthur, Roland, the many saints of the Roman church as a few examples.) Are the Enlightenment term Gothic and Romance not intertwined?
    (Were I to teach English history, I would begin and end with Arthur, who lives most brilliantly in the person of King Alfred, the great Christian.)

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