The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis

the lion the witch and the wardrobe

Bonita Jewel’s Review:

Five Jewels

Five-Jewel Book!

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the most well-known book in Lewis’ Narnian chronicles. I remember watching a cartoon based on the novel when I was no more than four years old. I was horrified by the scene that showed the death of Aslan. I ran from the room, crying. How could those monsters kill the good Lion? Even as a young child, I knew there was something terribly wrong with that lion dying.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe begins with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, four siblings, traveling from London to the countryside. To have a safe place to stay during World War II, they are sent to the grand home of an old professor. [Fun fact: Youths actually stayed with C. S. Lewis and his brother in the country during WWII.]

One rainy day, the children are playing hide-and-seek, and Lucy ducks into a wardrobe. Feeling for the back of the wardrobe, she keeps stepping further into it, but finds herself in a winter wood.

She meets a curious character, a Fawn named Mr. Tumnus, and discovers she is in a land called Narnia. She joins him for tea but when she returns through the wardrobe to the professor’s house, no one believes her, no time at all has passed, and the wardrobe is nothing but a wardrobe.

Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe one day, and discovers a different side of Narnia. He meets a beautiful and fierce queen who gives him a delicious warm drink and magically makes his favorite treat appear: Turkish Delight. She tells him she has a castle with rooms full of Turkish Delight, and promises him a position of power at her side. He just needs to return to Narnia with his brother and two sisters, whom this queen seems to show a keen interest in.

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis explores the consequences of decisions, forgiveness, and redemption.

Recommended age: Six and up. This series welcomes discussion with younger children about sin, forgiveness, and Christ’s sacrifice to bring redemption.

Re-readability: Highly recommended on a regular basis.

 

Jessica Rose’s Review:

Five Roses

Five-Rose Book!

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book C.S.Lewis wrote in this series. It is often the first one read and is the most well-known among all seven.

Four siblings are sent to a professor’s house to be safe from the air raids in London. Any uncertainty or fear about the large, strange house vanishes almost as soon as they arrive. The professor is the sort of chap that would let you do anything, and as long as they didn’t disturb the housekeeper they could go almost anywhere. There would be stags, and badgers, and foxes to find in the woods nearby. However, when the first morning dawns, they hear the unmistakable sound of rain.

The siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy decide to explore the giant house. Who wants to sit around moping when there is a whole house to explore. There are spare rooms, hallways, a harp in a room of green, a suit of armor, libraries with books bigger then the Bible. The siblings are ecstatic, room after room after room they explore together until they reach a spare room, all it has is a giant wardrobe and a dead blue-bottle on the window sill. The rest leave but Lucy steps into the wardrobe, as she walks through it she finds it is much larger then she thought, she must have passed hundreds of coats by now, but as she goes on she finds herself in a wood. It cannot be the professor’s lawn, for instead of the bright sunshine of summer or the rain that drove them inside, there is snow – and a lot of it.  Lucy gets to explore the woods after all.

She encounters a faun (not the young deer type) and soon they become friends.  Lucy, after spending hours in that land called Narnia, quickly returns to the wardrobe so that no one will worry. When she catches up to her siblings, they say they have just come out of the room a moment ago so Lucy could not have been gone for hours. They are then convinced that she is making up a story after they show her the back of the cupboard.

One time Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe and meets the “queen” of Narnia. She is very interested in the fact that he has one other brother and two sisters. The queen promises Edmund that she will make him a prince and he will have rooms full of his favorite sweet if he bring his siblings to her castle as well. After the queen leaves, Lucy is overjoyed to find that Edmund has come to Narnia as well. She tells him some stories about the cruel witch who calls herself the queen of Narnia and makes it always winter and never Christmas. When they return, Edmund assures Peter and Susan that Lucy’s world is fake and they were just playing a little game. But soon they all discover Narnia.

Lucy’s friend is taken captive. An ancient prophecy is revealed. A traitor is in their midst. The witch’s spell is breaking. Aslan is on the move. But what is the cost of a traitor redeemed? Who can pay the dreadful price?

The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe contains an amazing parallel to the story of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Recommended age: 6-106

Re-readable: Most definitely!

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The Magician’s Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia #1) – C. S. Lewis

the magicians nephew book review

 

Bonita Jewel’s Review:

The Magicians Nephew

Four-Jewel Book!

“The Chronicles of Narnia” is a classic series that never grows old. I repeatedly read the series when I was young and couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to read it with them.

Jessica and I read the books when she was six; I couldn’t tell you how many times she has read it since then. At least once a year. Probably more. I went through the series two years later with my son Allen, when he was six and seven.

My youngest, Aiden, is now seven, and we just finished reading The Magician’s Nephew, the sixth Narnian Chronicle that C.S. Lewis wrote, but the first in chronological order of the story itself. Jessica and I had a couple of conversations as to which story we wanted to review first. We’re starting with The Magician’s Nephew because we like things in order of chronology, although when I read the stories, I loved being surprised by reading it sixth, and learning of Narnia’s origin’s and the wardrobe’s back story after already diving into the world of Aslan.

In The Magician’s Nephew, a girl named Polly Plummer lives in a house joined to a row of houses. Next door to Polly lives an elderly brother and sister she knows as Mr. and Miss Ketterley. One morning, she sees a boy in the garden next door. A boy who looks like he had been crying. His name is Digory, and Andrew Ketterly is his uncle. Digory’s mother is near death, and his father is away in India.

Digory and Polly, exploring the attics one day, accidentally enter crazy Uncle Andrew’s study. He offers Polly a yellow ring, and as soon as she takes it, she disappears. Uncle Andrew, a self-proclaiming magician, tells Digory that Polly has gone to another world, and that if he wants to see her again, he must follow to bring her back.

With a yellow ring of his own, Digory finds himself and Polly in a place they call the “Wood between the Worlds,” a growing, living forest with trees and dozens of natural pools. With the green rings Uncle Andrew sent, the two friends can return to London, but Digory wants to explore the pools. What if each one leads to a new world?

The children find themselves in an aging world about to die … and in another world drawing its first breaths, a scene describe with lyrical beauty. But Digory brings evil from the old world into the new one. He must make things right again, when what he really wants is to make his mother well again. Digory fears that a powerful Creator who clearly can heal his mother might choose not to. The boy must decide whether to trust. And follow.

Recommended age: Six and up. The content might be okay for children younger than six; some younger kids might not express an interest in such a long story, and the subject matter might be difficult for them to follow.

Re-readability: Highly re-readable!

 

Jessica Rose’s Review:

The Magicians Nephew

Four-Rose Book!

The Magician’s Nephew is the first book of the “Chronicles of Narnia.” In the order that C.S. Lewis wrote them, it is the sixth. You can start with any one of the books but this one tells of the beginning of Narnia. It is a adventure that will take you from this world into three others along with Polly and Digory.

The story begins with Polly Plummer in the time that “Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street … and as for sweets … how cheap and good they were.” Polly is in the back garden when Digory Kirke the nephew of the Ketterleys appears over the fence, his mother is dying, his father is away, he had to leave his beautiful home, and his uncle is most likely mad (the crazy kind). Polly intending to cheer him up tells him about her hideout that connects all the houses. They decide to sneak into the empty house, however, they make a miscalculation-and their adventures begin!

The attic they enter is not empty in fact it is the very attic that Digory’s aunt told him not to go into-Uncle Andrew’s study. Uncle Andrew lets them go out although he wanted them to stay but first he offers Polly a pretty ring. As soon as Polly puts on the ring she disappears (it is not the One Ring that Bilbo finds in The Hobbit). Digory is forced by his uncle to go after her and find her so that he can give her the return ring and when he arrives at the place he finds himself in a wood.

It is not any wood for it does not have any inhabitants and is filled with many, many pools. Polly and Digory call it the Wood Between the Worlds for that is exactly what the pools are-different worlds. As the adventure continues they explore two different world one that is dying and one that is bursting with life, enough life to grow a toffee tree from toffee that is in Polly’s pocket as they find out. However, there is also evil that lurks in one world that rises and arrives at their world.

The Magicians Nephew shows the importance of resisting temptation, doing the right thing, and repenting when you don’t.

Re-readable: Yes I have read it uncountable times and the series is amazing.

Recommended age: 7-107

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Below the Surface (Code of Silence #3) by Tim Shoemaker

Below the Surface Tim Shoemaker

Jessica Rose’s Review:

Code of Silence

Four-Rose Book!

Below the Surface is the third and  final book of the Code of Silence Series.  It wraps up the adventures of the four friends Cooper, Hiro, Gordy, and Lunk. It, as the two books before it, starts off with a bang! But as they try to solve the mystery, the new chapters have even more mysteries in store.

The friends are starting to take the vacation Cooper has been waiting for since the first book – a vacation on his dad’s cabin cruiser, The Getaway! But as Cooper and Gordy launch a prank on a nearby boat Krypto Night, their prank seems to backfire. Trouble starts as soon as Cooper leaves Krypto Night’s deck.

The fear Cooper thought he had buried last year rises up from below the lake’s surface when he goes under. Panic overtakes him, he cannot see, he cannot swim, he cannot sense anything but fear. When it passes, Cooper finds that he almost sunk the inflatable that Gordy was on. Almost dying in a flooded basement must have triggered it, but can Cooper stop it from happening again?

A few minutes later, the owner of the other boat arrives at Krypto Night with his girlfriend, who is holding a camera. Cooper and Gordy get on The Getaway just in time to witness the guy and his girlfriend – whom the friend have dubbed “Superman” and “Pom-Pom” – start arguing. Superman starts the boat’s engine and a flash comes from the water. Is it the camera the girl was holding? Pom-Pom must be in the water. Superman starts driving the boat like a madman, then stops as Cooper blows a horn.  Hiro calls the cops, and when they arrive, they ask questions that make the friends think Pom-Pom might have been murdered. But a girl walks up from the beach. Her name is Lynn and she matches the description of Pom-Pom.

Hiro thinks something fishy is going on, and that Lynn was not Pom-Pom. She suspects that Superman – A.K.A Tommy Kryptoski – is lying. That he hurt the girl in the boat … maybe even murdered her.

More strange things happen. Hiro discovers that Kryptoski has a babysitter who might be trying to clean up a mess. Cooper, Gordy, and Lunk think she is crazy, and that her cop intuition is getting over-imaginative. But soon all of them – even Hiro – will have to face their buried fears just below the surface.

Below the Surface has a good lesson, like the other two books in the series. Below the Surface tells how to deal with your fear as the four friends find out, “Fear can be buried… but that doesn’t mean it’s dead.”

Recommended age: Ten and up

Re-readability: Highly re-readable!

 

Bonita Jewel’s Review:

Tim Shoemaker Review

Four-Jewel Book!

Vacations were all about having fun – or running from something not so fun. Cooper needed this vacation to be about both. The fact that he was starting high school in a matter of days wasn’t what gnawed at him. Not really. It was something way deeper. Buried. And he intended to keep it there.

The first paragraph in Tim Shoemaker’s Below the Surface sets the stage for excitement and conflict, which drive the plot of this terrific novel. For anyone who has read Code of Silence and Back before Dark, Cooper is now a familiar and loved character, as are his three friends: Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk.

This book has a “final” feel to it, which brings mixed feelings; the four friends are about to start high school. Things are going to change. But at the moment, they are enjoying one final trip together – out on the lake in a renovated cabin cruiser. Determined and almost desperate to manufacture an enjoyable vacation, Cooper heads out with Gordy to perform a prank on a nearby boat. When their activity morphs into witnessing a dangerous, if not deadly, event, Cooper discovers that “something he’d buried months ago wasn’t really dead. And now it was rising from its grave.”

In Below the Surface, author Tim Shoemaker  delves into the nuances of fear – the healthy fear that can keep you safe … the hidden fears that lie below the surface … and the overwhelming fear that can paralyze you. He blends an adrenaline-laced plot with deeply dimensional characters to create an unforgettable finale for his Code of Silence series.

Recommended age: 10 +

Re-readability: I plan to reread the series in the upcoming year, this time with my 10-year-old son.

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Back before Dark (Code of Silence #2) by Tim Shoemaker

Back before Dark Tim Shoemaker

Jessica Rose’s Review

Code of Silence

Four-Rose Book!

Back before Dark is the second book in the Code of Silence Series. My cousin, Jenna (the one whom I convinced to read the books) asked me for the second book as soon as she finished the first book – a sign that the books are really good. The first chapter of Back before Dark leaves you hanging so you are hooked on to the book just when you first started it.

It starts with an ordinary bike ride to Walmart but turns out to be a nightmare come true. A minivan cruises down the parking lot with a backpack on the top. Gordy, trying to be helpful and win a bet that he can’t reach the van, manages to catch up to it before it turns on Meadow Drive. While Gordy is getting the backpack down like the driver asked, he is tasered! Cooper MacKinnon – Gordy’s cousin almost catches up, but is too late. Gordy is gone.

The police try to find the kidnapper and Gordy but when Cooper, Hiro, and Lunk arrive at the police station the minivan is nowhere to be seen. It could be in Wisconsin or Indiana by then. At school they get posters to give out and after school they check a few parking lots for the minivan to no avail. During lunch time at school one day Cooper is scheduled to meet with a psychologist who asks Cooper if his motivation is guilt. Cooper, having decided the previous fall to stop lying, admits that it most likely is; he should have biked with Gordy to the van, he should not have bet that Gordy couldn’t catch the van, he should have remembered the license number. The shrink says only superman could have stopped the kidnapping, but Cooper isn’t so sure.

It turns out guilt isn’t too good of a motivation after all. After a few close calls and bad experiences, Cooper begins to realize that. Almost everyone besides him thinks Gordy is dead, even his other two best friends. Hiro tries to stop him from doing all of the wrong things he is doing. She says, “A real friend helps keep his friend from walking into trouble,” while Lunk (who is behind a few of the crazy ideas) responds,” Or is willing to walk through the trouble with his friend if he has to.” Cooper finally gets rid of his motivation of guilt when he changes to a different one – Love. Dr. McElhinney tells Cooper, “Love is stronger than all [Greed, Power, Hatred, Guilt, Fear, Revenge] combined … it’s powerful … you must be careful and control it-or you can get in over your head.”

Hiro and Lunk are worried about Cooper after he tells them he has no more plans. Is it just uneasiness or is Cooper trying to do a terrifying plan without anyone again? Love is a strong motivation and Cooper could be planning to do something that if anyone found out – they would do everything in their power to stop him.

Back before Dark shows that love is strong and conquers all, and that sometimes rescuing a friend from the darkness means going in after them.

Recommended age: Ten and up

Re-readability: Very re-readable!

 

Bonita Jewel’s Review

Tim Shoemaker Review

Four-Jewel Book!

Back before Dark begins with Cooper, Hiro, and Gordy biking home one evening, their new friend Lunk bringing up the rear in his small BMX. Resting in the park before their final stretch home, Cooper spots a minivan driving slowly with a backpack on top. Hiro challenges Gordy to catch up with the van, and Gordy takes off after it. But something is wrong. First Hiro, then Cooper, sense it. Before they can catch up with Gordy, though, the driver shoots him with a Taser and shoves him into the van. Cooper’s cousin has been kidnapped.

Hiro feels she should have known better, or caught it sooner. Her dad was a cop, after all, and she wants to be a police officer one day. Lunk struggles with feeling accepted while wishing he could do something for Cooper – who had welcomed him into their small group. He wonders why he wasn’t taken instead; at least fewer people would miss him if he was really gone.

Cooper hates that everyone is acting like his cousin, Gordy, is gone for good. He knows he can’t give up searching, no matter if everyone else has given up. He begins to follow his own leads, and ends up getting himself into deep water. But the deepest water is what Gordy is facing. Alone in a flooding basement. If someone doesn’t find him soon, he’ll go under. Literally.

Cooper knows he’s no hero, but what if he’s his cousin’s only hope? And what if the only way to help a friend out of darkness is being engulfed by the darkness himself?

Author Tim Shoemaker creates realistic and down-to-earth characters that feel like friends by the end of the book. The reader experiences the struggles, thoughts, fears, and victories right along with Cooper, Gordy, Lunk, and Hiro. Morals are woven into the story without being “taught,” making for a thrilling, entertaining, and meaningful read for all ages.

Recommended age: 10 +

Re-readability: Yes, I plan to reread the series in the upcoming year, this time with my 10-year-old son.

Note for parents: This is a great book to read with your child, as it touches on important safety concepts. At the end of the book, you’ll find a section on safety and awareness.

 

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Code of Silence by Tim Shoemaker

Tim Shoemaker books

Jessica Rose’s Review:

Code of Silence

Four-Rose Book!

Code of Silence is the first book of the “Code of Silence series” of three books. It is a very intriguing book that has chapters which leave you hanging at the end. After reading it, I tried to get my cousin to read it for two whole years. Then I used the book’s secret. Once when she came to my house, I asked her to read the first chapter and I wouldn’t ever ask her to read it again. Sure enough she wasn’t able to put the book down.

The book is about three friends in 8th grade who are suddenly faced with intense danger. Cooper MacKinnon is the leader (also the main character). Gordon Digby – aka Gordy, is the funny one, the peacemaker and Cooper’s cousin, and Hiroko Yakimoto (aka Hiro) is the brains of the group. One ordinary Thursday evening the three friends are in ordinary restaurant owned by Frank Mustacci who seems more like a grandpa than a business owner. They witness some crooks robbing the poor business owner, who doesn’t use a bank. Suddenly, they are faced with a life-or-death situation. They are sure it is curtains for Frank Mustacci and more likely them too.

While escaping, one of the criminals catches up to Cooper and gets his house keys. Cooper, who grabbed the hard drive to protect him and his friends from being discovered is threatened by the crook who promises to find him. The friends form a pact and promise not to tell anyone about what they saw, not even the police – because two of the crooks wore cop clothes. However, Cooper, left his backpack in the diner and the police know there was a witness and are determined to find him. The backpack pins the witness to an 8th grade boy in Plum Grove Junior High.

Cooper is starting to think that the “Code of Silence” isn’t really a good idea when it starts breaking up their friendship. A few days later, Frank is coming out of his coma and is in more danger than before because he guessed who the person is that betrayed Frank. With their parents away and the cops still suspect, will they be able to save Frank’s life?

The Code of Silence shows that “living a lie comes with a price.” Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro have to decide to tell the truth or keep the lie. “Telling the truth could get them killed. Remaining silent could be worse.”

Recommended age: Nine and up

Re-readability: Most definitely re-readable!

 

 

Bonita Jewel’s Review:

Code of Silence Review

Four-Jewel Book!

An evening at Frank ‘n’ Stein’s diner doing homework and playing video games turns into a nightmare when junior high friends Cooper, Hiro and Gordy witness a violent act. The diner owner, Frank Mustacci is left for dead, and Cooper escapes with proof of the act, but when one of the criminals grabs his house key and threatens him unless he returns the proof, Cooper has a single plan: Keep quiet until the three friends find their way out of the dangerous mess.

But their “Code of Silence” seems to be doing more harm than good. They don’t know who to trust or where to turn. Everyone looks suspicious. The solid friendship between the three starts tearing at the seams. Cooper starts to feel like he’s the one being pursued rather than the robbers. His final plan might save them all … or get him killed.

Author Tim Shoemaker knows just how to get a reader hooked at the beginning by combining a powerful plot with crazy-real characters, and heaping on the conflict in every chapter. Every page, it seems. When my daughter and I first read Code of Silence together, we stayed up for hours every night until we had finished the book because neither of us wanted to stop reading.

Recommended age: 10 +

Re-readability: I plan to reread the series in the upcoming year, this time with my 10-year-old son.

Note for parents: This would be a great book to read together with your child, as it touches on real-life concepts such as honesty, knowing when to keep quiet, friendship, and trust versus mistrust. The author added some questions for reflection at the end of the book, which could serve as good conversation starters.  

Code Of Silence Tim Shoemaker

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The Warden and the Wolf King (Wingfeather Saga #4) by Andrew Peterson

The Warden and the Wolf King

Jessica Rose’s Review

Five Roses

Five-Rose Book!

The Warden and the Wolf King as the last book of “The Wingfeather Saga” needs to wrap up all the questions that still remain from the other three books (and some new questions that the book itself makes). Will they ever return to Anniera? Can Kalmar and Artham overcome the monster within? Will the Hollowsfolk win the war? And who is Gnag the Nameless? Andrew Peterson answers all those questions and more in an exciting and unexpected way.

The Warden and the Wolf King has four different sections of the book. When I saw it, I was very happy because it is twice as long as the other ones (which means it might last me over a day). The sections are entitled “The Green Hollows”, “Skree”, “Throg”, and “Anniera”. They show the continuing story of every one of the characters we have met along the way. The book also has sections of a few pages put throughout the book telling the woeful and bitter tale of Bonifer Squoon.

Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli are still in the Green Hollows while they prepare for war but when the Fangs of Dang make the first move, chaos ensues. The Jewels of Anniera are separated! Janner is lost all alone in the hills where Ridgerunners and deserter Trolls roam. He is trying to get back to Ban Rona where unbeknownst to him a terrible battle is going on. Leeli is fighting Fangs with her newly-found weapon from the rooftops of the city. Kalmar is going on a mission to Throg without anyone else knowing. Meanwhile in Skree, an uprising is secretly going on. Artham became broken after finding out that his brother the High King had still been suffering all that time without him knowing and Sara Cobbler is trying to care for him. Maraly Weaver must face her father and decide whether to be a Strander and live, or be with Gammon and most likely be killed.

Will the two Throne Wardens be able to protect the ones they love or will the possibility of death prevent them from doing so? Janner must decide whether to protect his young brother – his charge – the boy who is turning more into a Fang day by day, or turn back. Will Sara ever have a family of her own? Can Leeli stay strong and protect Ban Rona from the bat fangs? Will Artham conquer his shame? And can Kalmar keep the boy inside of the wolf alive long enough to do what needs to be done?

The young Wingfeathers discover that the way to conquer the enemy may be different than they all thought, and if they do win, what can they do to heal the world that he broke? The Warden and the Wolf King shows that remembering who you truly are will bring pain, love is real when you are willing to get hurt for another person, and that there is a price for healing. It is the astonishing, page-turning, meaningful, bittersweet, and sweeping finish to the Wingfeather Saga.

Recommended age: 11-110

Re-readability: In the words of myself, “most-definitely, of course, most-assuredly, positively, totally … YES!”

 

Bonita Jewel’s Review

Five Jewels

Five-Jewel Book!

On his thirteenth birthday, Janner is dropped off in the middle of a snowy forest and expected to find his way home. Blindplopped. It’s a Durgan Guild thing.

Spring is nearing in the Hollows, as Leeli trains hounds daily in the Houndry, preparing for war. But the battle finds them unprepared with winged Fangs descending on Ban Rona.

Kalmar’s courage in fighting the Fangs is passionate and sincere, but his fear constantly plays at the edge of his mind. How long until the beast looming in the shadows of his mind takes control? He chooses to embark on a secret mission. In the midst of the Blackwood, he and Janner discover an astonishing ruin, hear of an inexplicable dream, and find help from the most unexpected character.

In the closing book of “The Wingfeather Saga,” Andrew Peterson leaves the reader with a powerfully resounding message of belonging, acceptance, and the transforming power of love. He tells of a sacrifice – the seed of a new garden. The healing of bodies by a flaming glow “like the word that made the world.”

Recommended age: 11 and up.

[Note for parents: sensitive readers might be affected by certain parts toward the end of the story. No specific spoilers will be given, but I recommend that parents either read the books with their children in advance of their children, as the messages of love and sacrifice are powerful, yet poignant.]

Re-readability: In the words of my daughter, “YES!”

Jewel Rose Review

 

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Monster in the Hollows (Wingfeather Saga #3) by Andrew Peterson

Monster in the Hollows

Bonita Jewel’s Review

Five Jewels

Five-Jewel Book!

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.

Monster in the Hollows quote

A favorite quote!

Jessica Rose’s Review

Five Roses

Five-Rose Book!

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.

 

Monster in the Hollows review

Another favorite quote!

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