I first discovered this gem in my local library, in the days before Kindles and Amazon. Since then (I was about 16 at the time) I have reread this book (and Karen Hancocks other works of fiction) many, many times.
Arena is a great story, and I’ll tell you why. Christian fiction (especially Christian scifi) can go one of two ways: either it becomes horribly cheesy and drenched in cliches , or it is amazing. For me, this book falls into the latter category.
Arena tells the story of Callie Hayes, a 20-something stuck in a dead-end job and feeling a little lost with life (don’t all 20-somethings?). When participating in science experiments for extra cash with her lifelong friend Meg gets her thrown into another world- The Arena- where she has to battle deadly life forms and evil to get out and make it home.
Hancock skilfully weaves Christian allegory into the battlefield of the Arena that can be both scary and moving at turns. I love this story, and I love the fact that Hancock displays delicate skill in putting together an entertaining read with a moral lesson.
A hard copy of this book (as with most of her works) is really hard to find in SA, but you can order one on most online stores and on most e-readers.
I paired this with the Moya’s Vineyard range. The start-up boutique wine farm only makes two varietals, a pinot noir and a savignon blanc. The pinot is light and a rich ruby colour while the savignon blanc has deep notes of green pepper, due to the dry soil it’s grown in. Like Arena, these wines are pretty hard to get your hands on, but once you find them, it’s worth it.