by Tenethia South
“The old stories tell that when the first person woke up on the first morning in the world where this tale takes place he yawned, stretched, and said to the first thing he saw, ‘Well, here we are.’ The man’s name was Dwayne, and the first thing he saw was a rock.”
I read that quote upon opening On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and, being amused, continued reading and didn’t stop until I had read it all the way through – and then I went right back to the beginning and started over.
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, book one in The Wingfeather Saga, is a Christian fantasy book by musician Andrew Peterson (his character Peet the Sockman might say “Peter Andrewson.”).
The land of Skree in the world of Aerwiar has been at peace for years, but an unnamed evil, (named Gnag the Nameless) rises, and with armies of lizard-like Fangs, subdues and occupies Skree. But Gnag wants more than power over the land. He wants the Jewels of Anniera.
When the story opens, the three Igiby children, Janner, Tink, and Leeli are living with their dog Nugget, their mother Nia, and their ex-pirate grandfather Podo in the town of Glipwood in Skree. For the first time Podo allows the children to go to the Dragon Day Festival without their mother. The day is going smoothly until, while Janner and Tink have their backs turned, Leeli disappears after Nugget, who has run off. While trying to catch her dog, Leeli angers a Fang, who tries to hurt her. The boys are able to save their sister, but later in the evening all three are captured by the Fangs and taken to the local jail. Nia ransoms them, but before long the Fangs come after the family, demanding they turn over the Jewels of Anniera. Nia and Podo insist they have given the Fangs all the jewels they have, but Janner knows they haven’t. If the Jewels are not turned over, it will cost the Igibys their lives. What are the Jewels of Anniera and why do Janner’s mother and grandfather protect the Jewels at risk of the children’s lives?
One of the things that makes this book so enjoyable is its humorous use of footnotes. This is not often done in fiction (probably because it would makes things really tedious), but Mr. Peterson puts in interesting little tid-bits that make the book even more fun to read. The footnotes often include references to Anniera’s strange creatures, as well as books “written” in Anniera, such as In the Age of the Kindly Flabbits. Peterson’s novel sense of humor helps to lighten tenser parts of the book, providing a flavor to his story that is entirely unique. Another thing that makes his book so enjoyable is the variety of creatures he introduces. Thwaps run rampant through the gardens, horned hounds haunt old houses, and toothy cows (Careful, they pounce!) roam free in the woods.
In addition to humor, Peterson endows his world with a spiritual foundation that will resonate with fans of the Chronicles of Narnia. While no character such as Aslan walks the landscape in a Christlike capacity, the Maker is both mentioned and known, and the book is richer for it. I would recommend this book to any lover of a good tale, well-told.
The fourth and last book in the series, The Warden and the Wolf King, will be released in April 2014, so we will be releasing reviews of the rest of the series as we lead up to the happy event.
Visit the Rabbit Room website to buy On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.