On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson: Adventure, peril, and toothy cows
1st book in the Wingfeather Saga
Overall rating: 9.5/10
Quality of writing: 9.5/10
Concerning content (language, violence, etc.): small
Age level: 10 and up
This story, which incorporates both quirky humor and excellent lessons about family and loyalty, tells the story of the three Igiby siblings (Janner, Tink, and Leeli) in their efforts to escape the gruesome reptile Fangs of Dang. Along the way, several mysteries crop up—the enigmatic Peet the Sock man may not be who he seems, and the Igibys may conceal more than they themselves even know. (No spoilers here!).
This story is notably funny, both in its whimsical characters and settings, but also incorporates serious issues and conflict between the protagonists and the forces of evil (led by Gnag the Nameless). This story’s particular forte is its combination of ridiculous humor and serious themes and is overall an extremely fun read.
The plot of this book revolves mainly around the Igiby siblings’ conflict with the Fangs of Dang, who have occupied their homeland, Skree, after its conquest by Gnag the Nameless. The plot is admittedly a bit slow to get started, as it begins with minor, accidental conflicts unrelated to the larger conflicts. However, with Tink’s and Janner’s discovery of a mysterious store of weapons in a supposedly haunted manor, the scope of their conflict with the Fangs takes on a larger significance as they become involved with the undercover forces of rebellion against Gnag. There are also some rather nice plot twists and reveals related to the backstory of several secondary characters, including Peet the Sock Man and Podo, the Igibys’ grandfather. Overall, the plot of this story is straightforward in scope, but incorporates some complex detail and conflict. (8/10)
Peterson’s characters are, in my mind, what makes this story really shine. The Igiby siblings are portrayed quite realistically, as are their mother, Nia, and grandfather, Podo; however, they are also extremely funny at times. The rest of the story’s cast are generally amusing as well: characters include fruit-loving “ridgerunners,” a librarian who speaks mostly in quotes, and an ex-pirate grandfather (Podo). Characters exemplify commendable ideals such as loyalty and self-sacrifice, as when Tink and Janner risk their lives to save their sister Leeli from a Fang, and are overall very sympathetic and understandable. Overall, the characters in this book are particularly amusing and engaging and merit a full 10/10 rating.
This book’s style is generally not overly difficult and is fairly straightforward; while it does incorporate sometimes-complex descriptive language (which is actually very nice), this is not really an issue difficulty-wise. Furthermore, while the plot can be a bit confusing at times, the general conflict is clear-cut and fairly easy to understand. Overall, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness merits a 4/10 on difficulty.
Quality of writing
This book is, on the whole, an excellently written story: as I mentioned before, it expertly blends sometimes-bizarre humor with genuinely valuable lessons about family, loyalty, and good-versus-evil. Furthermore, while incorporating meaningful themes, its style is surprisingly readable and allows its worldview to shine through. This book incorporates a decidedly Christian worldview, with several references to “the Maker,” the deity who created the world of Aerwiar, in which the Wingfeather Saga is set.
Another unique quality of the writing in this book is Peterson’s use of footnotes, which often reference various aspects of the story’s world (and are usually quite funny). These occur frequently throughout the book, and lend it a distinct tone not found in other works. On the whole, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness merits a 9.5/10.
This book does not incorporate much concerning content. With no problematic language or sexual content, it does include some combat and related wounds; however, these are not described graphically and the story does not focus overly on such scenes, although characters are punched or slashed at several points. Overall, this book contains relatively little concerning content.
Based on this book’s readable style, lack of major concerning content, and general engaging, humorous quality, it is recommended for readers age 10 and up.
A new edition of the Wingfeather Saga is being released for 2020! The books include new illustrations by Joe Sutphin as well as new cover art. Additionally, all four books are now in hardcover! This is the perfect chance to check out this excellent series, if you haven’t already. Pre-order at [insert hyperlink]