Book Review: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

Despite listening to the audio book in 2016 I never went ahead and read the whole Wingfeather Saga series. With new editions coming out in 2020 I decided to go back and start from book 1: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding Anklejelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest to mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms).

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.

It held up well. While it is obviously a series for children, it is still an imaginative and engaging series with interesting characters and quality world building.  Plus, there is just enough whimsy and humor to make it fun but not hokey.

These are books that are best enjoyed by just diving into the story.  It takes a little bit to get used to the odd names, characters and world. The longer you can immerse yourself in the reading the less self-conscious you feel and the more you enjoy the story.

I also had to remind myself that this is 1) the first book in the series and 2) a middle grade novel.  While it is an easy and enjoyable read, it lacks some of the complexity and intensity that some look for in fantasy adventures.

Kirkus hits upon this:

Over the course of a few too many nick-of-time rescues, the children learn their predictable great secret. Janner’s loving family injects the fantasy tropes with heartfelt sincerity, which lies incongruously among the gags, silly names and fake footnotes. But all the right quest elements are here, and with a bit more balance (less forced clownishness, a more natural flow of narrative tension), the sequel could be a book well worth the wait.

I found the second half of the book more exciting and engaging than the first so I am encouraged that the series will get better as it goes.

Looking forward to reading the next three books this time so I can gain a sense of the series as a whole.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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