Only Armulyn the Bard was able to muster any true feelings of joy, and Janner had noticed that for himself and for the people who listened to his songs with such desperate attention, the joyful feelings the songs brought to the surface always came with tears. Theirs was a burden too heavy to be lifted by songs alone, however fine the melody.
The whimsical gets darker in North! Or Be Eaten, Book 2 of Andrew Peterson’s The Wingfeather Saga. But the whimsy isn’t lost nor is the hope.
The Igiby children, brothers Janner and Tink and their sister, Leeli, flee to the Ice Prairies with their family to escape the Fangs of Dang who specifically chase these three children at the order of the evil Gnag the Nameless. The reason the children are being chased is still a mystery to both them and the reader.
As the brothers get separated in their flight, Janner takes a wrong turn both literally and figuratively, ending up in a Dickensian Fork Factory. Janner’s desperation palpably jumps off the page. But so does his determination and, I’ll say it again, hope.
These wrong turns are what I would consider “true” mistakes. Yes, as in the first book, the Igiby family manages to escape many hair-raising situations but not in a James Bond manner. They use their brains and their will-power and their refusal to give up to make their way in a world of peril and evil. They don’t always make the perfect choices.
And speaking of choices, Tink (who’s real name is Kalmar) makes a choice with more dire consequences. Consequences that aren’t as easy to escape.
In my post about the first book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, I mentioned that I thought perhaps the leader of the evil forces, Gnag the Nameless, may have been a nod to Voldemort (or He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named) in the Harry Potter Series. After reading the second book in the Wingfeather Saga, though, I realized that “names” take on more significance. Names are tied closely to the characters’ identity. It seems the fact that Gnag is nameless may say more about him than the fear people have of him.
So far, this series by a master story-teller has been the highlight of my summer.