Don’t Play with Toothy Cows

In my last post, I said I’d discovered two fabulous books. The first was The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. The second is On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. I really can’t sing enough praises for this delightful young adult fantasy. Peterson spins a wonderful tale of the Igiby children, Janner, Tink, and Leeli (and their trusty dog, Nugget), in their many harrowing escapes from the Fangs of Dang. The Fangs seek the lost jewels of Anniera and believe the children have them.

The humor is fantastic. It’s set in the world of Aerwiar (sounds like “here we are”) and contains toothy cows (which are quite vicious), cheesy chowder, Thwaps (think of the little critters that infest Ron’s garden in the Harry Potter series), Anklejelly manor, and the ghost of Brimney Stupe. And, of course, the Dark Sea of Darkness, which is really quite dark, for a sea.

There are quirky characters. Peet the Sock Man has a penchant for picking–and losing–fights with street signs. The unseen antagonist is an evil wizard named Gnag the Nameless. The more visible antagonist is the head honcho in charge of making people’s lives miserable, the fattest and meanest Fang in Glipwood Forest, Commander Gnorm (say it out loud, it’s funnier that way). The proprietor of Books and Crannies is Oskar Reteep, who has a penchant for quoting bad literature every time he opens his mouth. I found his bookstore’s organization especially amusing–who wouldn’t like to browse in the “Blacksmithing and/or Pie” section, or the “Pointless Poems” area?

The book has beautiful maps in the front, silly footnotes scattered throughout that explain history or other tidbits not really necessary for the story, lyrics to sad, sad songs, a copy of the “Permission to Hoe Garden” form, a recipe for maggotloaf, and a realistic diagram of a toothy cow. What more could a reader want?

The only down-side to the book is the slow beginning. It’s a cute and clever beginning, but the plot really doesn’t get going for awhile, so you’ve got to be patient. Still, it’s hard not to fall in love with the main characters, especially little Leeli with her crippled leg, fiery spirit, and disdain for pity.

Bottom line: Buy this book! The sequel just came out, so pick it up, too. It’s called North! Or Be Eaten.

For what it’s worth,

Sonja

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