Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga almost didn’t make it onto my bookshelf at all. This, it turns out, would have been a grave mistake. The Monster in the Hollows is the third of four, and it lifts the entire series to new heights. Strong characterization and a plot that reaps the seeds of the two previous books makes for a riveting read that ratchets up the tension in the series as a whole. There are few stories that surpass The Wingfeather Saga. Read on for more.
Peterson’s books started off nice and slow. I found the first book intriguing enough to keep reading, but not necessarily great on its own. In it, Peterson introduced us to Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, whose lives are overshadowed by the evil Fangs of Dang. Only the beginnings of the story were visible in book one, and I was more put off by cheesy names (the Phoob dungeons?) than necessarily hooked on the story. North! Or Be Eaten was an excellent sequel, however, bringing the Igiby siblings further into their roles and developing them more deeply in a broader story that was just more exciting. The Monster in the Hollows is the best one yet.
It’s a series, so the book has the advantage of building on the earlier two; but unlike many series that are dragged out for book deals, Peterson clearly had a vision for this saga as a whole. Book three develops the plot in all the right directions. Challenges mount, and revelations and surprises unfold at the exact moment they ought to. Previous, obscure characters resurface with new roles, and Gnag the Nameless continues to loom over all the lands of Aerwiar. While Gnag seemed almost cartoonish in book one, his presence through three books have given him a powerful aura that shapes and influences all of the interactions between the characters. It’s an excellent setup for the final showdown in book four.
Janner Wingfeather is a deep and complex protagonist, and Peterson does a great job telling about his struggles and his growth. Set against the not-so-welcoming haven of the Green Hollows, Monster tells the story of Janner’s struggles to orient himself towards what he knows to be true. His brother, scarred by the consequences of his past decisions, is hated, and Janner must share that burden. When the fragile peace of the Hollows is shattered at the end of the book, Janner must put into practice what he’s been wrestling over, and the stakes have never been higher.
In this captivating story, all of the seeds have been laid for the final confrontation with Gnag over the fate of Anniera. Peterson’s characters stand for truth and light in a world of darkness. They fight fiercely for family in a world of hatred. They bring unity and peace to a world of division, and they care for the downtrodden in a world of cruelty. Peterson’s genius comes from integrating these truths into the story. He does not lecture on love, family, unity, peace, and compassion so much as he just happens to be telling a story about people who practice these things. Peterson’s characters do feel truly human: their goals, dreams, and demons are ones that we all recognize.
The Monster in the Hollows is strewn with faith. Tiny allegories and parallels glint like diamonds underneath the surface. Truth is woven into the warp and woof of this story: again, Peterson has done a fantastic job of showing his faith without beating readers over the head with it. As a result, some people might actually listen. This is a fairy tale for adults and children alike. Children will love the excellent story, even as they’re taught unconsciously; adults will love it because it echoes the truth they have learned to hold dear in this world.
Andrew Peterson has created a story worth treasuring in his Wingfeather Saga, and The Monster in the Hollows brings to light the potential the first two books hinted at. I can’t wait to get my hands on the fourth and final book, which I’ve been told is the best of all. Parents, give these stories to your children, but learn to love them yourselves, for The Wingfeather Saga echoes the gospel in a rollicking, fun fairy tale.
Published on 22 September, 2015. Last updated on