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The Lake of Living Water

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Set in the world of "The Firstborn's Legacy" series, this Christian fantasy short story mixes the Biblical story of the fall with dragons and talking animals. It is a story of discovery, loss, and hope.

Life is perfect.

Life is good.

At least, that's all Nhardah has ever known. He and his siblings embark on their greatest adventure yet: They plan to climb the tallest mountain into the heavens, where they can sing with the stars.

On the way, Nhardah discovers marvels he never dreamed of. Then he encounters something better--and worse--than his wildest dreams.

"The Lake of Living Water" is currently published in the Phoenix Fiction Writers' Anthology, accompanied by works of authors E.B. Dawson, J.E. Purrazzi, and Kyle Robert Shultz. Subscribers to PFW's newsletter receive this anthology for free.


Published April 9, 2018

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About the author

Beth Wangler

15 books49 followers
Beth Wangler has loved stories since before she could read.

Growing up, she had a voracious appetite for books and loved nothing better than losing herself in a story. On one particular day around third grade, Beth paused in reading to realize that she could add books to the world, too. She’s been writing ever since.

Beth predominantly writes speculative fiction, though she occasionally branches out into poetry or historical fiction. She writes to entertain, inspire wonder, share hope, and explore truth. When not writing, she teaches History and English, reads, and crochets.

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5 stars
13 (52%)
4 stars
8 (32%)
3 stars
3 (12%)
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1 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for Bethany Fehr.
66 reviews9 followers
December 22, 2018
This story prompted a change in my outlook on life, which is something I can say of very few stories. I sometimes wonder what a growing, deepening relationship with God would look like in a perfect world, where change isn't about shedding sin but is all about growing into a deeper knowledge of God's glory: what God intended for humans at the world's beginning, and what His children will experience during eternity in His presence. This beautiful story gave me a picture of what such a life might look like, and opened my mind to a bigger vision of God.

One thing I find with so much Christian fiction is that it tends to funnel God into a box that is only as big as the characters' views and needs. This story did the opposite for me: it left me with a longing for the undiscovered depths of God's loving nature that He is waiting to reveal as I seek Him.

Another really cool thing about this story is that for most of it, the main drive of the narrative isn't about trying to stop something bad from happening or fixing something that's broken. It's based on a desire to go from a place of something good to something higher and deeper. I don't know if I've ever seen a story that works quite in this way. While it did take me a bit to figure out what the story goal was all about, once I understood, it was totally worth it.
Profile Image for Lauren (The Novel Lush).
159 reviews472 followers
July 19, 2018
I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t sleep so I picked up The Lake of Living Water. It’s a reimagining of The Fall, but here there be dragons 🐉 The writing style is something I particularly enjoyed, reminiscent of traditional fairytales and very pretty without being overly flowery or bogged down. Some authors get so caught up in prose that it’s less pretty and more like an essay that needed a higher word count. The story was a mix of hopeful and sad, especially the ending, but if I had a lick of sense I would have known it was coming... being that it’s a retelling if The Fall... as in mankind’s fall. I will be reviewing even more indie/self published books this month on my BookTube channel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for Hufflepuff Book Reviewer.
482 reviews17 followers
July 23, 2022
The Lake of Living Water is a beautiful retelling of the Biblical tale of the fall of man. It started out a bit slow for me, but the chilling shift in tone toward the end of the narrative proved more than enough to warrant it four stars.

The Lake of Living Water serves as a brief prelude to Wangler’s new novel, A Child of Kaites. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the story was the world-building; in this short story, Wangler hints at an intricately crafted world that I now eagerly look forward to discovering more about in A Child of Kaites. I also found it interesting that Wangler’s world is already populated with quite a few people in it when the fall occurs; this decision, I thought, gave the story a distinct flavor and set it apart from the Biblical fall of man—without ever taking away from the essence and heart of the Biblical account. We are thus able to witness how the fall might affect a group of people, rather than two mere individuals. Wangler does not beat around the bush: man’s decision to rebel against its Creator changes everything, plunging Creation into an inferior state.

The characters in The Lake of Living Water show practically no development, or even individual personalities for that matter—but, as another reviewer pointed out, this allegory is not exactly the type of story that necessitates character development. Even with the arguably lackluster characters, I still enjoyed the story, which is something I almost never say about any narrative. I would enthusiastically recommend The Lake of Living Water to any Christian—or even just to anyone interested in Biblical lore.
Profile Image for Nate Philbrick.
Author 8 books107 followers
September 16, 2018
Let's see...how to review this story...

On the one hand, Beth Wangler continues to impress me with her fluid narrative and her ability to evoke emotion through her characters. There's a higher quality to her use of language that makes the prose effortlessly enjoyable to read.

In terms of the story itself, The Lake of Living Water (as a retelling) leans heavily on the Biblical account of mankind's fall into sin and its repercussions on creation. Readers who aren't familiar with the source material may feel that there is more allegory and symbolism than plot or structure.

On a minor note, I was somewhat surprised that

At the end of the day, let's be real--I'd probably read an IKEA catalog if it had Beth Wangler's name on the cover, and I'd definitely recommend The Lake of Living Water to anyone who's reading (or plans on reading) Child of the Kaites. No assembly required.
Profile Image for Faye Fite.
Author 11 books158 followers
July 27, 2018
This story is beautiful.

I have read the story of the Garden of Eden many times. I knew what is was, but I've never felt it quite like this. Wangler captured its beauty and innocence so well. Reading about Aia's presence and the joy of the Lake of Living Water brought me such an amazing sense of love and peace. And, though I knew how the story would end, my heart still broke during the Rending. I felt Nhardah's sorrow and anger. But, more importantly, I felt his hope.

This type of writing takes an incredible amount of talent and compassion. I am so floored by this tale that I know my review cannot put my feelings into words. All I can say is that this story allowed me to see suffering and salvation in a new, gentle, gorgeous way. I am truly inspired and thankful.
Profile Image for J.E..
Author 39 books56 followers
March 29, 2018
This short story was an absolute delight to read. It's the first thing I've read by this author, but it won't be the last for sure. I've heard that her work is something like reading original fairy tales and I got that vibe for sure. Told like a grandfather passing on wisdom to his grandchildren, this short story evoked a feeling of wonder throughout. The gorgeous descriptions were occasionally interrupted by the narrator to overlay the entire thing with a slight hint of dread. The ending was impactful and sorrowful, but with enough hope to make it a very positive experience. And knowing what I know about her other works, I know that this is a prequel to upcoming works and I can't wait to see where the story goes. Excellent read.
Profile Image for Katelyn Buxton.
Author 13 books80 followers
May 28, 2018
The Lake of Living Waters is an imaginative retelling of the Biblical account of the Fall, in a fictional universe. I loved the comfortable form of narration, as if the main character was telling you the story themselves. I think it takes real talent to make a perfect world interesting—and Wangler pulled it off. The anthology synopsis says it’ll leave you feeling hopeful and refreshed, and it does. The Fall was not the end. One day Aia shall repair what was rent.
Profile Image for Jesse.
141 reviews
July 10, 2018
Were I to choose one sentence to classify this short story, it would be magically innocent. Magically innocent, but not in a kumbayah sappy sort of way. Rather, a pure and peaceful innocent that makes it a real joy and pleasure to read instead of making me want to hurl bucketsfull of, well, you know.

Wangler clearly has an extremely creative mind. The way she not only managed to put a fresh spin on the fall of mankind, but also made a perfect world incredibly interesting and imaginative, is nothing short of masterful!

The only real complaint I had with this short story is that I simply didn't relate to any of the characters. I get that this wasn't the type of story meant to aqaint us with the characters (hence why I didn't retract a star), but even so I would have liked a little more insight into their personalities. That said, compared to how matsterfully written the rest of the story was, this is a very minor complaint.

In short, The Lake of Living Water is a beautifully written short story that I would highly recommend, and I strongly look forward to reading Wangler's future projects!
Profile Image for E.B. Dawson.
Author 38 books140 followers
March 31, 2018
I adore this short story!

This short story is a prequel to Wangler's upcoming novel, "Child of the Kaites," which I have been privileged to read an early draft of. It is phenomenal. This short story is no less so. Beth Wangler has the ability to capture the magic of innocence. This story, in particular, reminds me of some of the work of C.S. Lewis. It is as refreshing as crystal clear water and makes me feel like I have gone on an adventure very different from the mundane of everyday life.

It is an uplifting fairytale that feels like mythology. And although it centers on a heartbreaking event, it echoes with hope.

I love Wangler's prose, style, and perspective. She sets herself apart from other fantasy authors.
Profile Image for Margo James.
454 reviews5 followers
January 14, 2019
The origin story why the firstborn left their home. Nice background of their god Aia and the wonderful things he did for them. Loosely fashioned after the creation story in the Bible. Lots of detail to set the backstory for the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Lindsi McIntyre.
Author 6 books9 followers
December 28, 2018
If you enjoy allegorical Christian fiction you'll want to give this short story a read. Beth Wangler finds a way to create whimsy and terrible dread all in the span of a few pages. I can't wait to read more of her work.
Profile Image for Azelyn Klein.
Author 8 books12 followers
August 14, 2018
I feel really harsh being the first to give this short story a 3/5-star review. But it just had too much telling and not enough conflict for a short story. I know you can only have so much tension when your story literally takes place in paradise, but readers didn't find out about the danger until after it happened, and the narrator seemed to know all about it beforehand. And I have some issues with the theology.

That being said, the writing style was enchanting. I like the way it is told as a verbal story, including the audience as though they were a descendant of the narrator. The world-building was also excellent, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series!
Profile Image for Elza Kinde.
208 reviews64 followers
January 1, 2020
Putting their talents and limits to the test, Nhardah and his adventurous siblings aim to climb higher than anyone has dared to go and see what awaits at the top of the tallest mountain.

The Lake of Living Water takes cues from folklore and classic literature, blending lyrical imagery and journeyer's lore with fantastical creatures and frightening forces. A wending and wondrous beginning lures you into a false sense of security-- which makes the jarring climax exceptionally well-timed.

I believe The Lake of Living Water is a prequel to The Firstborn's Legacy series, which I am now eager to pick up and read! Fans of C. S. Lewis's Narnia series should give this short story a try.
Profile Image for Julia Garcia.
307 reviews68 followers
April 13, 2019
Beautiful short story depicting The Fall.
I'm very thankful for writers like Beth Wangler who can capture the feelings of innocence and innocence lost while ending the story with hope.
I started getting emotional at the ending and it is difficult for any book to give me an emotional response.
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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