Books

Fearsome Toothy Cows, Oh My!

A review of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

On the Outside:

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s on the cover that I often find a reason to read a book. On this book’s cover, the name Andrew Peterson was reason enough for me to want to read it. He is one of my favorite singer/songwriters; his music is True, and though his music, he is a master storyteller. I wanted to see if he could pull off that same mastery in a book.

This cover gave me another reason to want to read it: the subtitle: “Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree.” It implies that the book has everything I like in a good fantasy: adventure, danger, a quest, strange creatures, and a sense of humor.

First Lines:

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness has a few introductions before you actually get to the story, and they are worth reading. From the first, “A Brief Introduction to the World of Aerwiar”:

“The old stories tell that when the first person woke up on the first morning in the world where this tale take 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. Next to the rock, though, was a woman named Gladys, whom he would learn to get along with very well. In the many ages that followed, that first sentence was taught to children and their children’s children, and their children’s parents’ cousins and so on until, quite by accident, all speaking creatures referred to the world around them as Aerwiar.”

We go on to read about a Great Evil, a “nameless evil, an evil whose name was Gnag the Nameless.” How could anyone not want to keep reading?!

Plot Lines:

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is the story of the Igiby family—mom Nia, siblings Janner, Tink, and Leeli, grandpa Podo Helmer (who used to be a pirate), and dog Nugget. They live in the country of Skree, which is occupied by Gnag the Nameless’ evil Fangs of Dang. The Fangs seek the Jewels of Anniera, a beautiful island where the High King of Aerwiar lived before the island fell nine years ago to Gnag and the Fangs.

The Fangs suspect that the Igiby family knows something about the lost Jewels and begin to focus a lot of attention on the family. Attention from the Fangs is something the people of Skree would rather avoid, so this sends Janner, Tink, and Leeli on their adventure.

In the course of the story, we learn secrets about the Igiby family, meet a bookseller name Oskar Reteep and a Sock Man named Peet who both seem oddly interested in the family, and with the Igiby’s, we encounter all manner of strange creatures, including the fearsome Toothy Cows. (There’s even a drawing of a Toothy Cow at the back of the book!)

The Bottom Line:

I loved this book! From the story itself, to the footnotes (seriously, footnotes!), to the sketches, to the appendices, I was completely enchanted.
I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good adventure. While I think all ages would enjoy, I think it would be especially appreciated by a ten year old boy. And, it would make for a great book to read aloud as a family.

And the best thing…it’s the first of a series, so there are more adventures to come!

This review is also posted at http://sherrahb.tumblr.com.