Bonita Jewel’s Review
Something within us perpetually seeks a place we can call home – whether we’re half a world from friends and family or have never ventured more than a few miles from our hometown. Monster in the Hollows begins with Janner anticipating home. Somewhere. If not in the Shining Isle, perhaps in the Green Hollows. After fleeing Fangs from Glipwood to Dugtown to Kimera and across the Dark Sea, he longs for acceptance and belonging. But his brother Kalmar is not a typical boy. And the people of the Green Hollows do not take kindly to strangers, much less so to anything – or anyone – resembling a Fang. Janner’s primary responsibility, as a Throne Warden, is to protect his brother … but even he is not sure how safe Kalmar is.
Janner’s sister, Leeli, fits right into the Green Hollows with a position at The Guildling Hall that seems tailor-made for her (in short, she’s good … real good). His grandfather, Podo Helmer, can finally put up his feet in front of the fire and enjoy sharing and hearing tales. His mother, Nia, back among her kinsman, has the chance to embrace life anew. But animals and livestock begin disappearing, and the distrust of the town flares up. Is a monster at large in the Hollows? Is Kalmar responsible? Will Janner be able to protect his family when they near the gallows of treachery?
I read this book in January, and read it again this past month (a rare action with over 100 books on my to-read list). I thought it unique and stupendous half a year ago, and found myself just as engaged in the story this time around. Perhaps more so. With deep-threaded themes of trust, acceptance, belonging, weakness, humility, and true strength, Andrew Peterson weaves a story that beats with a heart of its own.
Recommended age: 10 to as-old-as-they-get
Re-readability: Yes. Oh, yes.
Jessica Rose’s Review
The Monster in the Hollows, like the others in this series, has a personal thing that makes it even better. In On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness the thing is its humorous and often extensive footnotes. In North! Or be Eaten it is its pictures of the various creatures of Aerwiar. Well, in The Monster in the Hollows I believe it is the songs. The Monster in the Hollows resumes the wonderful (yet dangerous) sea trip of the young Wingfeathers, their guardians, and their uncle, Artham, Throne Warden of Anniera (who had just saved Kalmar from the evil Stone Keeper’s clutches).
Janner has decided (a while before the current time) that he is tired of running and just wants to live normally in a real home. But where could he live? His old home of Glipwood is overrun (and ruined) by the Fangs of Dang, and his birthplace – his true home, and his younger brother’s kingdom – Anniera, is still burning after Gnag the Nameless’ attack nine years before. There might be a possible home for Janner and his siblings though, his mother’s original home – the Green Hollows, a land feared by the Fangs.
However, when the Wingfeathers arrive, they are faced with a huge problem; Kalmar had been captured by Fangs on their trip to the Ice Prairies thanks to his bad choices and now has fur, pointed ears, and a tail. Just when Janner could possibly get a home, his hopes are dashed when the Hollowsfolk hate Kalmar who resembles a Fang. Even after Kalmar is released, Janner feels unhappy. Leeli made a friend on her first day at school and has a guild that suits her perfectly, Nia is starting a new life, Oskar has everything he could possibly need with a library to go to whenever he likes, Podo can actually relax for once, while Janner is stuck at a guild where you get punched thanks to Kalmar. Janner tries to fit in but that’s hard to do with a brother who is a wolf. Still, Janner wishes for his true home the Shining Isle of Anniera and hopes that one day he will be able to see it with his own eyes.
Meanwhile, Sara Cobbler is having troubles of her own. Who wouldn’t if they had to work in the dreaded “Fork! Factory”? But she has a secret weapon against all the dread and doom of the factory. She has the light that Janner left behind. Can that do anything against the misery around her? Artham, though he turned into a mighty winged being when he saved Kalmar, is trying to deal with his shame. Janner tries to find out what happened to his beloved uncle, who is now back in Glipwood, and also tries to find out the secret magic of Leeli’s songs, while trying to protect Kalmar and to protect others from him too.
The Monster in the Hollows doesn’t only show what is happening, it shows the headaching swirl of Janner’s confused thoughts, the intensity of Artham’s shame, Kalmar’s hidden fear, and poor Sara’s wish to be free. The book shows the intense mystery, the awful betrayal, and the secret monster in the hollows. (Though you might have to wait until the end.)
Recommended age: 10 to 100
Re-readability: Y E S E X C L A M A T I O N P O I N T I have read it five times since 2015’s Christmas and some parts over that.