Conditional Recommendation: The beginning of a fantastical, suspenseful, epic adventure with the Igiby family as enemies are evaded and mysteries are uncovered.
What an amazing book! There’s mystery, whimsy, suspense, quirkiness, battles, escapes, a strong family unit, respect for elders, a bond between siblings, the dangling carrot of ancient lore—there are so many great things about this book! It’s a wonderful first installment to an epic adventure with the Igiby family. I think I’d have to read this several more times to mine all the goodness out of it. As it is, I just finished listening to the audiobook (which I recommend) and am in a book high of emerging from an exciting adventure. The world, fantasy, and storytelling reminded me of Brandon Mull but with morals and timeless themes that bolster your soul like Chronicles of Narnia.
Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.
Janner – The oldest sibling and the one we follow for most of the story. As the oldest, his mother and grandfather have charged him with the responsibility of watching out for his brother and sister. He struggles with this throughout the book because his heart longs for adventure but responsibility makes him feel tied down—doomed to follow the lives of his brother and sister rather than have his own. This inner conflict drives Janner and it morphs throughout the story as their family is threatened and he comes to see his family and himself in a different light. He learns the value and honor of being a servant.
Tink – Though he harbors a dreadful fear of heights, this middle child is a trouble maker as he lets his curiosity outweigh any thought for danger or consequences. He makes it difficult for Janner to protect him. But he’s good natured at his core and when hard times come with venom and swords, he shows that he’s made of courage and integrity.
Leeli – The youngest child who has a crippled leg and a too-big heart for her faithful dog, Nugget, which gets her into trouble. She is kind and compassionate to others and softens anyone around her from her sometimes gruff grandfather to her brothers.
Podo – Though land locked and the leader of the family, this grandfather has not lost his pirate spirit and adventurous nature. He’s a wonderful character and I love him as the leader of the family. The respect he commands and grants to his beloved grandchildren is commendable.
The bonds, love, and support of family is the crowning jewel of this book and it shows up in both little and big ways throughout the story. To put it succinctly, this is a family book—a book about a family for other families to come together and enjoy. There are other valuable themes in this book so watch for them!
This book definitely has biblical values and a bible-like origin story to the world. The characters also pray to “the Maker.”
The way Andrew Peterson tells this story is fun, funny, and imaginative. There are footnotes sprinkled throughout that give the reader hilarious insight into strange creatures, customs, objects and more. The story is straight-up well written.
I could not believe how on the edge of my seat I was! Once you get immersed in the world—give yourself time to do that because this fantasy is a little tricky to get a handle on at first (think Brandon Mull)—the plot takes off and then it’s one thing after another. The suspense, mystery, and action keeps the plot moving along at a fast clip.
I’ll just say this lest I spoil anything: Questions are answered and it ends with hope for future good.
There are fantastical creatures and beings (again, think Brandon Mull) that humans live alongside. For example, the Fangs are lizard-like creatures that are scaled, have tails, sharp teeth, and venom but are humanlike in speech, function, and they walk up on two legs. There’s no wands-and-spells kind of magic, but there is a soft kind of magic that we see hints of in this book such as a song that causes unusual things to happen.
Overall, this book is very clean with the only exception being some violence. It is set in a time of enemy occupation after a war. There’s sword fighting, killing enemies, and wounds lightly described.
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