Book Two in ‘Quest of Dan Clay’ Trilogy Released

‘The Harrowing Escape’ continues Catholic adventure series.
by John Gleason | Source:

A year ago in August, Colorado author T.J. Smith introduced readers to the Catholic adventure “A World Away: The Quest of Dan Clay.” The book is the first in a trilogy featuring a band of adventurers who enter a portal to a parallel world that is home to the Reclaimers—half-man, half-serpent creatures condemned to their condition for committing unspeakable acts.

In “A World Away” Dan Clay and his friends set off in search of Clay’s brother, who has mysteriously disappeared.  In a world where the unimaginable becomes reality, the band makes their way to a centuries-old castle, a creepy looking place where they hope to find who they came for.

As book two, “The Harrowing Escape,” opens, the group is stranded in the castle’s kitchen.

“It’s been quite an adventure for them so far,” Smith said. “They’re about to explore the castle and they don’t even know for sure if the brother is there.”

Like its forerunner, Smith said “The Harrowing Escape” is a classic adventure, but one in which the characters are virtuous. Part of the quest is doing the right thing.

“There are moral lessons in the text,” Smith said.  “I wanted this to be a book that parents didn’t have to worry about their children reading. They won’t have to screen it. It’s a wholesome adventure that will hold a youngster’s attention—it’s good Catholic reading for anyone of any age.”

Even so, Smith said that in book two the lead character, Dan Clay, undergoes some change.

“In the first book, Dan came across as the perfect son,” he said.  “But he’s not that perfect in the second.  That was intentional because we’re all like that; we’re human and we occasionally fall.  What’s important is that we get up and move on.”

Action is the watchword of book two as there is much more of it than in the first installment.  Smith said he enjoys a lot of adventure in his own reading and wanted the Dan Clay trilogy to have the same.

“In book one, I emphasized character development and laid out the story line,” he said.  “You have to do that, it’s part of the process.  In the second volume, we just take off.”
And what about the third book?

“It’s called ‘The Sinister Realm,’” Smith said.  “I’m in the editing process now.  Hopefully, we’ll see a publication date sometime in the summer of 2009.”

Smith started writing the Dan Clay series four years ago. He said when the final installment is published he may take a break—but sooner or later, he’ll return to the keyboard.  He muses about writing a children’s book. For now, however, Smith is going to let Dan Clay and his companions explore the castle in search of his brother.  If they find him, will they be able to find their way home?  T.J. Smith wouldn’t say. You’ll just have to read “The Harrowing Escape” to find out.

"The Harrowing Escape" Synopsis

The Harrowing Escape
The Quest of the Dan Clay: Book Two

After confronting the merciless creatures and plant life of Eldritch Forest in the first installment of the trilogy, A World Away, Dan Clay and his battered friends reach their goal: an undetected entrance into the demonic castle. 

Within the hexed walls of the fortress, Dan and his companions are plagued with unsettling questions…questions whose answers will demand a deeper infiltration into the secret recesses of the centuries-old castle, answers which will involve confrontations with the citadel’s animate and inanimate residents, and answers which will entail encounters with the savage beasts of the forest. 

Is Dan’s brother, William, alive and a prisoner of the Reclaimers?  Will the travelers survive the spellbinding powers of the half-man and half-serpent creatures?  Will the rescuers breach the spatial boundaries of the parallel world and return home?

Continue your journey with the travelers as they strategize their escape and unravel the mysteries of the Reclaimers’ vulnerability, the invisible warm touch, and a dire potion.


After more than two decades serving as a development officer with nonprofit associations, T. J. Smith realized an ambitious undertaking with the publication of A World Away.  Smith, a Rocky Mountain resident, is currently working on the third installment, The Sinister Realm, which promises to shatter the boundaries of the reader’s imagination.

I had the recent pleasure of reading The Harrowing Escape: the Quest of Dan Clay. 

In addition to being a great adventure story, I found that the author presented the reader with ample opportunities to pause and reflect on the importance of faith and a healthy prayer life.  Not to be overlooked, of course, was the author’s successful attempt at weaving morality lessons throughout the text, such as the importance of courage, love of God, selflessness, integrity, and honesty.

I have recommended this novel to teenagers and adults alike in my parish who are looking to deepen their faith, their prayer life, and their love of God.


Rev. James Spahn
Pastor, Our Lady of the Valley Parish
Windsor, CO

Dan Clay Series

“A World Away” is available in print and audio versions online at and at 

“The Harrowing Escape” is available in print at and can be pre-ordered at

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