Let’s try that unfortunate review from yesterday again (think it came out better, but I know I forgot something I had last time)
It’s great when a book exceeds your expectations — especially when the expectations are pretty healthy to begin with. I knew Andrew Peterson could tell a story well — the best of his songs are stories. So I expected a nice little fantasy story for kids, well constructed, good imagery, and so on. I got more than that with On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.
It is a pretty straightforward kids fantasy — three child protagonists, a quaint little village, some colorful characters, nasty villains (an occupying force of humanoid lizards that eat maggots and mucous) , dragons and other strange creatures, and missing treasure. There’s excitement, danger, a strong family bond, and well-rounded characters. All that’s good enough.
But you take all the above and tell it with the the sensibilities of a hodgepodge of C. S. Lewis, Douglas Adams, and Neil Gaiman. There’s a strong sense of play here — in the language, characters, and style. Peterson’s whimsy carries this story. A few examples: the scariest creature in the world is a cow, one heroic figure wears socks on his hands, there’s a running joke about rashes that speak to the inner twelve year-old in everyone.
It’s these sensibilities that elevate this from a standard read, into something more — fun, daring and at times delightful, that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.