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Reviewed by Lori Fox
Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson
"The series is a great introduction to Fantasy novels as a whole, as well as being a good read in themselves."
Janner, Kalmar, and
Leeli Wingfeather, the Throne Warden, High King, and Song Maiden of the
legendary kingdom of Anniera, respectively, are on the
run, along with their mother and grandfather. Every land has been conquered
by Gnag the Nameless and his Fang army---men who have been melded to animals
to create a stronger, fiercer race of warrior. Every land, that is, except
the Green Hollows. A land populated by the fiercest warriors that humanity
has left to offer, and some semblance of peace due to their strong defenses.
The Green Hollows gladly welcomes the Wingfeathers, with one exception. Kalmar, the high king, is also a Fang. Though still a child, he sang the song that would meld his body with that of a gray wolf. His sister's song brought him back to himself, but his body, and some of his instincts, were unchanged. And the Hollows has but one rule above any other---Fangs must die.
Without the Wingfeather children there is no one to stop Gnag the Nameless, but can a Fang ever be trusted? Even a royal one?
The Monster In The Hollows by Andrew Peterson is the third installment of The Wingfeather Saga. As is usually the case with the middle of a series, it's not quite as exciting as the beginning or the end, but it is certainly well worth reading. The Monster In The Hollows seems to put more emphasis on Kalmar Wingfeather than the first two books did, and Janner has gotten over himself a little more. While I highly recommend this novel, I also suggest that you read On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness and North! Or Be Eaten first. You may be able to follow the story arc of this book if you simply pick it up and start reading, but it won't seem nearly as interesting without the background of the whole series.
While I can't speak for the entire series as this is only book three, I do have some thoughts on the books this far. The Wingfeather Saga is obviously written for the younger set---I would say between the ages of 7 and 12 though I don't know if that's what the author intended. The booger jokes in the first two books indicate that they weren't written for highschoolers, however. The series is a great introduction to Fantasy novels as a whole, as well as being a good read in themselves. For example, it has many of the classic elements that you expect in a good Fantasy series. You have the high king that was raised in obscurity with the big reveal coming to him only after he finds out that someone's trying to kill him. You have the magic talent that no one ever suspected was there (in the novels, this seems to equate to spiritual gifts---remember that these are Christian Fantasy novels). You have the traipsing across foreign lands thing. And you have the big, bad, scary creatures with human intelligence and an ability to communicate thing. All with their own unique twist, of course, but the basics are still the basics.
The language used can be easily understood by children, making it suitable for them to read by themselves or with an adult. I often imagine the author enlisting children to help him with the difficult parts, asking questions like "what is the GROSSEST food that you can think of?" and then including that in the story. (Note: this may or may not actually happen, but there are certain parts that I'm convinced that it's true) But the story itself, the character development, and the quality of the writing are of high enough caliber that most adult Fantasy fans will love the books as well, and I recommend them to adults as well as children quite often.
While I don't believe that there's a deliberate "moral to the story" aspect, I do think that these books have a few valuable lessons to teach. This may change by the end of the series, of course, but right now I'm seeing things like- you can't always control your own path, but you can control how you respond to it. And, some bad decisions really are permanent. You can't always get a do-over. But a even a permanent bad decision is not who you are. These lessons are natural and are simply part of how the story is written. I don't think these were even intended.
So, do I recommend Monster
in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson? Yes, I absolutely
do. However, if you're an impatient reader like I am, you might want to
wait a few months until the next books comes out and just pick up the whole
series. Waiting for the next book feels like pulling teeth. Or, in this
Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.