When I was little, I reveled in tales of far-off places, thrilling dangers and the fulfillment of legend. Even now, as an adult, I long to be lost in language, to immerse myself in a world that is both foreign and familiar, and to ultimately be captivated by a story that gives us a glimpse of the larger Story in which we find ourselves.
Andrew Peterson’s latest addition to his children’s book series, North! Or Be Eaten!, does just that, and yet it never takes itself too seriously. This is a good thing.
You may remember Peterson from his debut novel, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, which we reviewed here in 2008. This latest installment picks up where the last ended and continues at a galloping pace, careening through the landscape of Skree with twists and turns that might break your neck if you’re not careful.
There are swordfights and sea dragons as well as poetry and song. Each chapter's exploits lead quickly into the next, and I found it hard to put the book down and return to real life. Even more humorous proper nouns and quick quips kept me rolling, while the robust plot in this faster-paced installment had me hooked until the end. This book is also a bit darker, but only in the sense that bad things still happen to good people and the author doesn't shy away from the reality of death. Thankfully, the story overflows with more hope than the waters of Fingap Falls.
“Whether crushed or sheltered by the Maker’s hand, ’tis beneath it we go, from breath to death.”
— Triliban Plubius the Bruised, The Bridge, (Skree City Press)
In the midst of frenetic chases, family quibbles, measured despair, and weighty choices, short bursts of beautiful prose appear, sentences that make your breath catch and your heart yearn for More. Somehow Peterson manages to mingle the earthly and ethereal and yet still appeal to adventuresome eight-year olds. As always, the threads of redemption are subtly woven throughout this tale of trolls, toothy cows and troublemakers. I don't know how he does it, but I'd pay to be able to mix the silly and the sacred like that and make it work.
I would recommend this to anyone with an imagination and a heart. (That means you!)
If you're curious for a bit more, I'd suggest you check out the Wingfeather Saga online.
Andrew Peterson is the author of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Book One in the Wingfeather Saga, and The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats. He’s also the critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist of ten albums, including Resurrection Letters II. He and his wife, Jamie, live with their two sons and one daughter in a little house they call The Warren near Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his websites: www.andrew-peterson.com and www.rabbitroom.com