Today I will be featuring Kathryn McConaughy’s Biblical fantasy, Overpowered. I am particularly excited about this retelling because it is so unique to find Biblical fantasy these days.
After a blood crime sends Taliyah bat Shammai running from her home, she flees into the hill country. Yet the hills are no place for a woman traveling alone. Strange dreams of talking jackals and mysterious mists are the least of her worries—for she knows that the Avenger of Blood will be following close behind her.
Barred from the Refuge by the circumstances of her crime, Taliyah thinks that her best chance of survival may lie with Cypress and his band of mercenaries: giant Cedar, hardened Thorn, boasting Vine and tidy Fig. Unsure whether to stay or go, Taliyah is reassured by the arrival of a young man with a mysterious past and cardamom-colored eyes. Something tells her that he is a man she can trust. Yet when a new king rises at the city of the Dawn, Taliyah and the seven criminals are called to fight a battle they cannot win. Will the outlaws stand fast in the face of certain death? Can Taliyah ever find safety again? Even escaping the battle may not save her… for the Avenger is still coming.
— Loosely inspired by the tale of Snow White, this Christian fantasy novella is set in a magical version of ancient Israel. 135 pages (33,000 words) plus 65 pages of bonus features including cut scenes, a bonus short story, author interview, and more. For ages 12 and up.
Now Kathryn is going to talk to us about her story for a little bit.
What is Overpowered about?
This is a surprisingly hard question to answer. Overpowered is about a girl who finds refuge with seven dangerous and sometimes hilarious men in the hill country. It’s about a war that happened a long time ago and very far away. It’s about trees and dreams and creatures that look like hyraxes but aren’t.
But ultimately Overpowered is about the difference between the way things look from our perspective and the way they look from God’s perspective—between what we want and what God wants.
Humans are not only limited, we are broken. We don’t see things clearly even when they’re right in front of us. Sometimes we choose the right things for the wrong reasons, but more often we choose the wrong things for the wrong reasons. We are focused on the physical, on the preservation of our very temporary lives.
God is perfect and perfectly wise. He knows everything that ever happened or will happen. He knows what will be best for us ten years from now and for our descendants a hundred years from now. He knows the spiritual realities that will remain after our present lives have ended.
In Overpowered, the hero and heroine’s lives both take a turn when they encounter the difference between the two perspectives.
Snow strikes a man down and flees, afraid of the consequences of her actions. We would say, “It was self-defense. She shouldn’t feel guilty.” But she’s still troubled. She asks herself again and again, “Is it better to live with the weight of a blood crime on my heart? Or would it have been better to die while I still had hope?”
There may be an even better answer waiting for her. I don’t think it’s one she would have come up with on her own.
Yotam dreams a strange dream in which he sees a forest burning. He must ask, “Should we fear God’s fire when it burns the darkness from our hearts?”
Snow and Yotam may decide to try to act in accord with God’s perspective on their lives, but there are other characters who refuse to see the difference and refuse to change, at least during this story. Vine is running from God as hard as he can. Thorn, who may be my favorite character, still has a long road to travel.
On a personal note… this wasn’t at all what I expected Overpowered to be about. I didn’t plan it this way. I thought that Overpowered would be mostly a story about trust. A story about fear overcome by God’s power to protect his people. But while those themes are important, this novella is mostly about becoming able to pursue the will of God, even when that means doing or enduring things that the world and our own hearts tell us we shouldn’t do or endure. It’s too risky. It will hurt too much, we tell ourselves. We don’t have to run after God. We can just stand still. As long as we don’t run down into the dark, that’s good enough.
I was going to write, “I fight not to believe these things every day.” But that wouldn’t be true. There are plenty of days when I don’t bother to fight at all, when I just try to stand still. So though Overpowered wasn’t the story I expected, I think it was the story I needed to write.
You may not see what I saw in this story. You may read it and think, “If I hadn’t read that blog post I would never have noticed that theme. I feel like the story’s about something different.” If you feel like that’s the case and you want to share, you can reach me via my Facebook page or through my blog, The Language of Writing. I’d love to hear from you!
About the Author:
Kathryn McConaughy is a Christian fantasy author who writes for teenagers and adults. Her stories are set in fantasy versions of Medieval and Ancient Near Eastern worlds. She has studied 16 languages (7 living, 10 dead), but would only want to claim fluency in one of them. She enjoys fighting with a broadsword, reading, gardening, researching, and cooking