Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Monster in the Hollows

Title: The Monster in the Hollows

Series: The Wingfeather Saga #3

Author: Andrew Peterson

Genre: Mid-grade Fantasy Adventure

Excerpt from “A Smoldering Silence,” Chapter 1 of The Monster in the Hollows:

It wasn’t a sound that woke Janner Igiby. It was a silence.

Something was wrong.

He strained into a sitting position, wincing at the pain in his neck, shoulders, and thighs. Every time he moved he was reminded of the claws and teeth that had caused his wounds.

He expected to see the bearer of those claws and teeth asleep in the bunk beside him, but his brother was gone. Sunlight fell through the porthole and slid to and fro across the empty mattress like a pendulum, keeping time with the rocking of the boat. The other bunk’s bedclothes were in a heap on the floor, which was typical; Kalmar never made his bed back in Glipwood, either. What wasn’t typical was his absence.

Three royal children seek refuge in a land ravaged by suspicion.

Craft: The Monster in the Hollows exhibits solid writing, providing a fun romp of story.

So while this novel may not make a list of great literature, its quirky characters entertain and the colorful landscape sparks the imagination. The plot has coalesced, ever-moving forward in a clear arc while maintaining the offbeat, episodic feel of earlier books.

Two things I did miss were the humorous footnotes and the more frequent illustrations. These do not affect the overall quality of the story, I grant you, but I missed them nonetheless, especially as the story took on a more somber tone.

Content: As the plot develops, so do the themes. So in The Monster in the Hollows, several spiritual/moral threads have crystallized as the progression of the plot becomes clear. Learning to place others’ interests above your own is probably the most predominate in this story.

Beyond this, there is little to note. There’s no additional magical elements except what has been already established. Also some fantasy violence is lightly depicted, including the resulting death of an important character.

Summary: The Monster in the Hollows is a fun adventure full of quirky humor and distinctive characters. A light, entertaining read for older mid-grade readers and their parents.

Ratings: Craft—4, Content—3, Overall—3.9 out of 5

Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Hmmm, I think I liked this one more than you did, Chawna. I think the Wingfeather Saga is close to great literature -- a step away and the nearest thing to Narnia we've seen. It's not the same, of course, because it's contemporary and reads not like a classic of yesteryear but like one, or almost one, of today.

You're the third person that has said or alluded to the idea that the series is getting darker, more serious. I thought book two was much darker than this one, that this, in fact, returned the book to its more fun roots.

So interesting, people's different perspectives. Makes me want to read reviews at Amazon to see what others outside the tour thought.


Chawna Schroeder said...

Becky, I probably didn't make myself clear: I would agree that book two is probably darker than this one. However, I think book two also had more humor to help counterbalance that darkness, and that full counterbalance of humor is what I was missing in this book. (That is also probably why it seems darker to others.)

As for great literature, I'm sure our standards of "great literature" and what that comprises probably differ. So by that comment, I didn't mean to infer that I didn't enjoy this. I did. Very much so.

However, after reading the Hunger Games (which may leave something to be desired in content, but has fabulous writing) and other similar books lately, I feel that there's an added depth missing in many books--in the secular as well as the Christian market. So while I enjoyed thoroughly this book and will easily recommended it to many, I cannot classify it as great literature either.

Of course, this is just my opinion (ah, the problem of subjective art!) and I could very much be wrong.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Thanks for your response, Chawna. I don't know if you noticed or not, but my post yesterday was on the humor of this book. LOL

I can see your point, though, I suppose, because there were some things missing in this on (footnotes) that were included in the others. I didn't find Oscar's quotes as funny this time (though others have said they did).

I enjoyed the word play so much though and don't mind if there's less ... uh, bodily functions humor (what I called boy humor in my post).

The more I thought about the dark aspects (and now it's probably four or five people who said they thought this book was darker, or at least more adult), the more I realize that Janner facing the problems alone in book 2 really swayed me to see that one as darker.

Here he was with his family and under the protection of his mother and her friends, so it never felt as threatening to him for me. And he is the one I've been most invested in throughout.

Anyway, it is indeed interesting how we all have favorable things to say about this book, and yet we see it in different lights.