REVIEW of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, by Andrew Peterson

Dark SeaOn the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is the first book in the Wingfeather Saga. It follows the story of Janner, Tink, and Leeli, the three Igiby children, who try to escape the clutches of the evil Fangs of Dang while learning the secrets of their family’s past.

The vile lizard/snake creatures who have infested Airweair reminded me of the cartoon snakes from the LEGO Ninjago series. In fact, a whole lot of this book reminded me of the Ninjago series, with the side jokes that kept being made and the way that each short chapter ended on a cliff-hanger.

Janner, the eldest, seeks to prove his responsibility–but every time he is left in charge of his siblings, something goes horribly wrong. And now that they’ve antagonized the Fangs of Dang, their family is either going to have to flee or face the horrifying punishment of the Black Carriage.

A mysterious stranger keeps arriving to provide help when help is needed. But will it be enough to save the Igibys when the whole might of Gnag the Nameless is bent on finding them and wresting the jewels of Anniera from their grasp?

The book seems to have some latent Christian themes that will be developed in the later volumes of the series. Other reviewers have compared it to Narnia, but I did not see a strong resemblance in this first book of the series.

There were two things that irritated me about this book, and that almost made me put it down after the first couple chapters. First, the “whimsical” style the author uses…a Terry Pratchett approach to fantasy that I thought was poorly done. There were many “clever” footnotes, a la Princess Bride, that made me wrinkle my nose and feel like I have to defend the fact that I do have a sense of humor. Second, I could not stand the names of the characters or the made-up words in the story. Being a language teacher, I couldn’t find any linguistic pattern where the names made sense together. It would be like having a novel where the characters are named Gustavus Adolphus, Tikki Tembo, and Voltron, and expecting the reader to think those names formed a cohesive world. I guess J.R.R. Tolkien has just spoiled things for me, his names are that good.

Despite these annoyances, I can’t ignore the fact that the story grip was good. Once I got going with the book, I definitely needed to find out what happened. If you don’t mind some cheese in your high fantasy, this book is for you!

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