Enter the world of Aerwiar, a land where the hordes of Gnag the Nameless have overtaken once peaceful lands, all in search of the Lost Jewels of the Shining Isle of Anniera. It is a happy world much like our own…except for the venomous and heavily armed Fangs of Dang who rule land, and except for the forests haunted with Toothy Cows, Horned Hounds, and Gargan Rockroaches, and except for the dreaded Black Carriage that comes from beyond the River Blapp to steal your children in the middle of the night.
This is the world of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga.
Recently my seven-year-old and I have been reading through the first three books of this series: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, North! Or Be Eaten, and The Monster in the Hollows. (The fourth and last book, The Warden and the Wolf King, will probably be published the spring of 2013). He loves these books, and I have found them incredibly entertaining.
C.S. Lewis wisely stated that the best way to spread Christian ideas and doctrine is not by writing more little books about Christianity but by writing more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent. That is exactly what the Wingfeather series is. It is first and foremost just really well-written young adult fiction. Great stories. Creative writing style. Excellent character development. But underneath it all is a strong Christian undertow, a story that pulls the reader into an exciting world where the Maker has a plan, evil is real and personal, and the main characters must embrace who they really are if they are to win the great war.
In the first book we meet the young Igiby children: Janner, Tink, and Leeli. The story follows the the Igiby family as they attempt to avoid the watching eye of the Fangs of Dang, lizard-like creatures who govern the land of Skree as cruel overlords. The children live with their loving mother Nia and their former-pirate grandfather Podo in a small cottage close to the edge of the great Dark Sea of Darkness.
Janner and Tink, the oldest of the Igiby children, learn there is more to their small township of Glipwood. What long-hidden secrets can be found in the rare book collection in local bookshop? Who (or what) lives at Anklejelly Manor north of the township? What are the lost Jewels of Anniera and why do the Fangs want them so badly? Why does the local crazy man wear socks on his hands?
As the book comes to a close and the secrets are unraveled, the children find themselves facing a great danger they never could have imagined. It is a story that illustrates the bravery of unlikely heroes, the unbreakable love of family, and the uncompromising nature of evil.
In the second book the Igibys find themselves on the run from the Fangs of Dang. They plan to run to the northern Ice Prairies where they hope to find a last city of refuge, but first they must cross great distances and overcome many obstacles.
North! is a fast-paced book. Each chapter brings characters face-to-face with all new dangers and tests. How will they outrun the Fang armies? How will they escape from the Strander clans who inhabit the East Bend of the River Blapp? What really goes on inside the dreaded Fork Factory? What secrets is Gnag hiding on the Phoob Islands? Will they ever be able to brave the cold of the Ice Prairies?
This book was my favorite of the three. The characters go through some rapid developments (and transformations). The odds against them are stacked so high, one wonders if the author has painted his own plot into a corner at times. But the strengths of each character will surprise you. It seems as if each character was born for their heroic moments. But the plot is also believable (in a fantasy-world kind of way): each character has their own personal flaws and weaknesses that reminds you of their ordinariness.
In the third book the Igiby family makes their way to safety across the Dark Sea of Darkness to the Green Hollows, the homeland of their mother Nia. There the children believe they might finally be able to stop running in fear and settle down into a normal life. Normal, except that their brother Tink has been transformed by Gnag’s magic into a beastly looking creature. The Hollowsfolk believe they have every reason to be suspicious of him, but the Igibys know he’s the same old Tink. Or is he?
The Monster in the Hollows takes the Wingfeather Saga to a whole new level, revealing even more startling details about the origins of the Igiby family and their connection to the nameless evil that is terrorizing the world. In their new home, Janner, Tink, and Leeli must again prove themselves to be no ordinary children.
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I highly recommend you read these books to your kids. The chapters are short, ideal bedtime stories, and packed with anticipation. My son and I are anxiously awaiting the last book in the saga.