Book Review: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

  • Title: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
  • Author: Andrew Peterson
  • Genre: Children’s Fiction/Fantasy
  • Star Verdict: *** (out of five)

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, by Andrew Peterson, is the first book in the Wingfearther Saga and is aimed for grade school-aged children.  The subtitle pretty much says it all: “Adventure.  Peril.  Lost Jewels.  And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree.”  This is a goofy, sometimes scary romp following twelve-year-old Janner Igiby, his younger brother Tink and little sister Leeli.  The Igiby siblings live in a country that has been taken over by orc-like creatures called Fangs whose harassment of the humans ranges from annoyances like making them fill out stacks of paperwork to get permission to use a garden hoe, to kidnapping children in a rot-covered Black Carriage to take them to an unknown doom.  The fangs suspect that the Igibys are hiding the lost jewels of Anniera, and as a result Janner repeatedly has to save himself and his siblings from not just the fangs, but crazy creatures like toothy cows.

This is a goofy book that will appeal to fans of books like The Phantom Tollbooth and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and while it was cute, it’s not exactly my style.  I found the random “historical” footnotes and silly fantasy creatures just a little too goofy, but did enjoy the quirky characters and their well-defined personalities.  It feels very much like a bedtime story made up on the spot and then turned into a book, and as a result the plot is a bit random and choppy.

While there are silly parts, the book is also rather intense and quite violent at times.  There is one description, for example, where 12 year old Janner kills an attacker by cutting him in half with a sword; the top of the fang’s body is described as sliding off the bottom half.  A little much for the target age group, I think.  There are many other scenes that involve stabbing, beating, poisonous venom, and people and animals dying.

One thing I appreciated about the book is that the children rely on their mother and grandfather throughout the story.  Too often in kids’ books the adults are portrayed as clueless hindrances who always admit that the children were “right in the end.”  In this book the adults clearly love the children and help and protect them.

Peterson is a Christian, but this is not really a religious book—references to “The Maker” are as religious as the book gets.

This is only the first book in the series, and I felt like the plot got the most interesting in the last few chapters.  I think I might like the later books better than the first one.  I’d give it three out of five stars.


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