Reviewed by Darcie Gudger
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
"...quintessential fantasy for middle readers. Riddles, legends, songs and strange creatures lurk through the print."
Young Janner Igiby longs for the kinds of adventures his ex-pirate grandfather had on the Dark Sea of Darkness. But he’s stuck in the township of Glipwood in the land of Skree. Nothing exciting happens there, except for one day each year when the Dragon Day Festival floods the village.
Janner begs his mother and grandfather to allow him to take his younger brother and sister to the festival promising to stay out of trouble. Well. Twelve-years-old is a synonym for trouble.
The festivities are beginning when Janner finds himself in a serious tussle with the Fangs – snake-like creatures dripping with deadly venom who’ve ruled Glipwood since The Great War. Conflict between the humans and the fangs has only grown deadlier with time. Janner makes an enemy intent on wiping out the Igiby family.
Identity and substance don’t reveal themselves in a person until times of great peril. Janner and his siblings stumble upon clues leading them to suspect they aren’t who they think they are. Janner’s mother and grandfather go to great lengths to protect family secrets.
As the mysteries swirling around the Igiby family unravel, they are forced into hiding with the town psychopath, The Sock Man, who has a reputation for attacking street signs.
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is quintessential fantasy for middle readers. Riddles, legends, songs and strange creatures lurk through the print. Author Andrew Peterson, a renowned songwriter/musician uses his lyrical skills, making the text read-aloud-friendly. Short chapters ending with dilemmas will cause many a parent to rethink bedtimes.
Dark Sea struck me as Harry Potter meets Narnia plunked down in Middle Earth. Peterson plays with satire in his use of numbered footnotes, providing readers with tongue-in-cheek explanations of the obvious or Skree history.
In the beginning of the story, the author’s use of irony falls flat. Tentative. Irony works best when pushed over the top, taken to its extreme and woven seamlessly into the plot.
Initially it was hard letting myself fade into the world of Skree because the first half of the book was weighted with back-story. But once history was out of the way, the true tale began, pulling me from Denver into Glipwood.
The characters come to life as pages passed, and I have to tell you, Peet the Sock Man is on my list of all-time favorite characters! Peet is interesting to the point where he nearly steals the stage.
All that said, Dark Sea is perfect for introducing young readers to fantasy fiction. Spiritual truths are illustrated, not preached. Peterson found his rhythm toward the end, making me antsy for the next installment in the Wingfeather series.
Darcie Gudger is a freelance writer currently working on a young adult novel while trying to solve all the mysteries of motherhood with her adopted son, Kyle. In her spare time, she coaches the 2A Colorado State Champion Sheridan High School colorguard, judged equipment for the Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association and sings for the Bear Valley church choir and worship team. An adventure-seeker who lives and writes in the shadow of the Rocky mountains, Darcie loves hiking, camping, cycling, photography and keeping her husband guessing. Visit Darcie online at her blog, Joy in the Litterbox.