I've come to know Andrew Peterson through his music. His song "Faith to be Strong" from the album Carried Along was the first time I thought, "I know what that guy was feeling when he wrote that." In fact, Carried Along is my favourite AP album, if only because it was my first -- like when people usually name their first Doctor as "my Doctor" or their favourite Doctor. (I no longer have a favourite Doctor. I'm more like Mai who sees him as the same man, as he is, just different faces. You can read more about Mai here. Actually, don't. It's embarrassing.)
AP is a kindred spirit and one of the few musical artists who have helped define my journey through song; he joins the list with Jars of Clay (my first favourite band whose music I will forever love even when I don't), Audio Adrenaline, JJ Heller and Caedman's Call. There is a quote attributed to Donna Roberts: A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, [sic] and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. That is what AP, through his music, has become to me.
And now there's a way for me to know the man better. ("Come in and know me better man!" -- Ghost of Christmas Present, Muppet Christmas Carol.) I had teachers in school (so long ago it seems now, though 10+ years isn't that long ago) who said but for my writing they wouldn't have known me because I'm so quiet. I got to know AP through his music and posts at The Rabbit Room, so reading this series was like reading the work of a friend, which I found encouraging, inspiring and an adventure, especially as I'm in the midst of writing my own book.
The Wingfeather Saga consists of four books: The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, North! Or be Eaten, The Monster in the Hollows, and The Wardenand the Wolf King. This children's fantasy series tells the story of the three seemingly ordinary Igiby children living in Aerwiar under the oppression of Gnag the Nameless. They end up on a quest to revive the lost Shining Isle of Anniera by searching for the Jewels of Anniera. (Hey, I just gave a decent summary in two sentences. Pat on the back for me -- brevity is not strong suit.)
Andrew Peterson is a fantastic storyteller. Throughout the whole series he wrote with escalating tension and foreshadowing that lead to an inevitable yet unexpected ending. The journey of the Igiby children is not soft; it is hard and full of harsh reality. AP made a brave choice for the story resolution, however, the ending is hopeful. The characters do not receive cotton candy happy endings full of sunshine and daisies, but those characters whom you find yourself cheering for do receive love in its richest and deepest forms.
There are a few things that I found distracting as a reader: 1) the use of footnotes when a notes section at the end of each book might have been a better choice as none of the notes were necessary to understand the story; 2) the overabundance of exclamation marks in some places; and 3) Oskar N. Reteep's habit of speaking mostly in quotes from books he's read -- his dialogue was an opera of quotes (without the actual singing). None of these, however, were enough to pull me away from the actual story.
In conclusion to my review of the Wingfeather Saga, if you enjoy children's fantasy or enjoy family reading time books, you'll really enjoy this series. If you find odd place names and quirky character and creature names tiresome, I imagine you're not a fan of fantasy, so you might want to skip the series, however, if you do fall into that latter category, I encourage you to try at least the first book because the story itself really is fantastic and gets better as you go along.
And if Andrew Peterson should ever find himself reading this: I'm thankful for your existence and glad you found your way all those years ago. Thank you for being brave and sharing a few stories.