Let me not be a brow-beater. Let me just state plainly that you should buy your child, nay yourself, a copy of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness for Christmas. Andrew Peterson has started his book-writing career with a full-tilt, high-charge adventure.
Let me go back a bit. I’m a fan of Lord of the Rings, but this is not that. I’m a much bigger fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, but this is not that either. Although it’s a fantasy adventure, it stands alone and different than either of those. It in no way pretends to be either of them either. It’s not a classic…but I think it might have the trappings to be one. It’s got a steady and sure plot, heaps of suspense, liberal doses of humor, adventurous and curious boys, a sweet and compassionate little girl, a stalwart mother, and really hideous bad guys.
Andrew Peterson was built by God for storytelling. He has a solid background (“All the Way Home”), cohesive overview of reality (“the world was good; the world is fallen; the world will be redeemed”), has the God of Heaven as his center (“Far Country”), and the beauties of redemption in his sights (“every breath is a mercy”). He feeds his family by traveling the country singing stories about those things. Andrew lives with his wife, two boys and a girl in Nashville, TN…where his house is.
Janner Igiby lives in the sleepy little town of Glipwood. Sleepy that is, except for the smelly and dangerous Fangs who wave the strong hand of control over the Glipfolk. Janner along with his younger brother Tink and their little sister Leeli live with their mother Nia and their grandfather Podo Helmer quiet, simple lives. Quiet and simple that is until we meet them. The quiet ease is disrupted when the Igiby children beginning discovering clues and truths about the real history of their country, their dead father, and the life that their family used to live before the domination by the Fangs and their evil ruler Gnag the Nameless. [I appreciate how unfair it is to summarize a story so succintly. Buy the book to promote justice.]
You must be willing to read the story with the spirit of a child. That is, you must not be put-off to be immersed in a world where live Fangs (from Dang), thwaps who infest gardens, and toothy cows who are immensely dangerous and drooly. In new worlds are new places, games, names and creatures. Some, like horned hounds, are dreadful, and some are very pleasant, like sugarberries and gooeyballs, along with rhythmical ancient tunes, the beauty and grace of an upright mother, and the power of a common purpose and pull.
What to Notice Throughout
All throughout, Peterson is nudging from the background, trying to spread hints than the Igibys have weight and depth and import. They aren’t simpletons. They aren’t followers. They aren’t common. We can see it in the education that Nia is giving her children, the tugging at their hearts when the bard sings, the hazy memories of memories, and the way that bravado and pluck come to the surface when called on.
You Should Know
Each character is very well-developed. Janner wants to know and understand. Tink wants to see and experience. Leeli is just, plain sweet and compassionate. You will love each of them.
Peterson is a wordsmith and his metaphors and similes are top-notch at pulling you further into the story, except when he intentionally pulls your leg by makes comparisons between two things that are both fictional.
The footnotes are practically worth the price of the book as they reference you further in and further back into the world in which you are delved, making it all the more real.
You Must Know
While the story is entertaining, it’s also serious. In every good story, good must be good and then treated like good. Bad must be bad and then dealt with in the end as bad. And sometimes that fact is a little hard to stomach…just like in real life.
Building a world like Skree (Glipwood is just one town) and beyond is a process. Just as a table must be set and the food prepared before the eating takes place, so doth the story go. The setting takes a few chapters and is good. Be patient; don’t blink; the goods are coming. You will want more when it’s over.
But It Gets Even Better
When you get to the end of this book, and your heart is racing, and your spirit is soaring, and the answers have been made plain(er), it will seem as if things have only begun. And they have. This book is “merely” the first installment. And……hang on……you’re going to love this……Book Two is already written and ready for purchase. I haven’t read it yet. I have my signed copy all ready to zip through, but…well, it will happen quite soon. The reviews I have read have said that Book Two, called North! Or Be Eaten!, is a little darker but even better than the first book is. I can hardly wait.
You should also know that this series (formally called the Wingfeather Saga) has it’s own official website that will give you lots of interesting background, maps, encyclopedia, beautiful illustrations, and more. You can find it here: Wingfeather Saga Online. It’s a great feature. C.S. Lewis would have used it if he could have.
Now, you absolutely must leave here to read this letter that Andrew wrote to you.
Then, you can come back here to spring over to Amazon to do what you know you should do.
Oh, and I would love to hear from you if you decide to purchase the book.