The Elk King by Jenn Discher

Can the Elk King guard and protect the animals of Glenariff in the face of treachery? This talking animal story will delight fans of The Green Ember and similar series.

The Elk King by Jenn Discher. Independently published, 2022. 285 pages.

Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12

Recommended For: Middle grades, ages 10-12.

The Elk watch over the other animals of Glenariff, guarding and protecting them from such threats as the Mountain Lions. Prince Draven, due to inherit the throne from his father Venstrom, is out cavorting with the other young Elk when he notices them drinking from the stream. That’s funny. All Elk are supposed to drink only the water from the Cistern in the castle complex. The Cistern water is so precious that an Elk guard is always on duty. Draven isn’t sure what to think. He knows drinking non-Cistern water is wrong, but he’s not quite sure “how” wrong….

The Harvest Games are coming up, though, and soon Draven and his family are caught up in preparations. Additionally, an increasing number of Elk are sickening and dying; Venstrom sets out to visit them, leaving Queen Isobel, Princess Belarose, Prince Draven, and Venstrom’s brother, Harnost, to finish preparations for the Games. Unfortunately, there is treachery afoot within the castle walls. Prince Draven may need to assume the throne earlier than expected.

The Elk King is a fun start to a proposed series titled Tales from Animalia. And start it does: readers are left hanging at the end of book one! And yet, there is hope amidst the confusion. It’s hard not to associate the water from the Cistern with the Living Water offered in Scripture; this book is somewhat transparent in its Truth application. The author occasionally seems to forget her characters are animals (with the Elk “skipping down the grand staircase” while holding a basket, apparently on hind legs). This may bother older readers, but most readers in the target age will run with it, caught up in the story. Fans of The Green Ember will find this a great read alike.

Overall Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Worldview/Moral Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Literary/Artistic Rating: 4 out of 5

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Related Reading From Redeemed Reader

A Review: The Green Ember by S. D. SmithA Reflection: Farewell to Richard Adams (a reflection on Watership Down, perhaps “the” animal fable)

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