Welcome back, dear readers,
Are you ever “late” to popular books? A couple of my favorite series– namely Harry Potter and The Hunger Games– are ones that I read long after the initial hype had cooled off. It’s a miracle that I managed to avoid the amount of spoilers that I did. Now, I’m having the same experience with The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. So many people have already fallen in love with this series– and for good reason.
Even though I picked up this series seven years after the final book was released, I’m so glad I did. My thanks goes a close friend who finally convinced me to give the series a try.
The premise: The Wingfeather Saga is a MG fantasy series filled with humor, adventure, family bonds, and courage in the face of darkness. The first book follows Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby as they try to get by while their town is occupied by Fang soldiers. Everything changes after a dangerous encounter with a soldier puts their family at risk in the midst of the Fangs’ search for the legendary Jewels of Anniera.
I’ve never reviewed an entire series at once on this blog, but I’m giving it a try, and I can’t wait to discuss my spoiler-free thoughts with you all.
Book 1 – On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
I enjoyed this book, and although I wasn’t blown away by it, I really appreciated the themes of family and the sense of goodness radiating from it. This book made a fantastic summer read and was perfect to flip through while sitting on my back porch, warmed by sunshine. My main critique with book 1 is the beginning is rather ambling, and it takes a while to get to the main “trunk” of the story.
Looking back, it’s neat to see how far the characters (and the readers) come from the first book to the last. All in all, a decent, lighthearted read.
3.75 out of 5 stars.
Book 2 – North! Or Be Eaten
Here’s where I really became invested in the series. There were so many twists in this book that I kind of saw coming, but it was still brilliant when they happened. This sequel truly took the story to new heights, and irrevocably changed the trajectory of the characters’ lives. Peterson didn’t shy away from placing his characters in challenging, sometimes heartbreaking situations, but he also did a phenomenal job of weaving in light, goodness, and virtue. He portrayed the hardships of life in such a way that ultimately pointed back to God.
Second books often run the gamut, ranging from falling flat compared to the original or surpassing it. North! Or Be Eaten definitely falls into that latter category and took this series to another level.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book 3 – The Monster In the Hollows
I LOVED this book. Like, really, really adored it. The sibling bonds, the school plotline, the portrayal of relatable struggles and emotions, all combined with a lyrical writing style. I laughed, I gasped, I was completely hooked.
Peterson’s ability to capture emotion is incredible, and there were so many times where I related to Janner’s struggles, was swept away by the beauty of a moment, was caught up in by the triumph, or felt the keen tragedy of the events. Plus, the ending… why would you do that to my poor heart? Yet, it also was fitting.
I also really appreciated how the question of what it means to be a monster was approached from so many different angles. Grotesque appearances and brute force are often what we think of, but cruelty, deceit, and condemnation are just as harmful.
For those of you who are wondering, my favorite moment was probably in the chapter “A Reckoning for the Bunge.” I don’t care that I’m not Annieran, I am henceforth considering myself a Throne Warden.
5 out of 5 stars.
Book 4 – The Warden and the Wolf King
This book was an emotional rollercoaster. While not as fun of a read as The Monster in the Hollows, it was filled with piercing light and moments of deep beauty. So many scenes struck right at my core with their messages. It, however, never seemed preachy. Rather, the meaning was woven directly into the structure of the story, making it even more impactful than when authors spoon-feed you their ideas.
I’m still recovering from the end and uncertain how I feel about it. The character arcs were beautiful, but my main critique lies with the structuring of the story, which could have been smoothed out a little more. I wanted a touch more closure after an intense book filled with many instances of heartbreak, especially with the major even that happens before the end. I also would have preferred to have the Dugtown perspectives woven throughout the book instead of being relegated to one section and then not returning to those characters. Those POVs were largely forgotten when it came to the end, and I’d been hoping a certain uncle would appear in the final battle. There were a couple other minor critiques (such as the lengthy, Return of the King style gap between the first climax and the one near the end), but they don’t change my love for this book.
Something I deeply appreciated, though, was the emphasis on finding beauty even in miserable circumstances. The writing style illuminated truth, courage, and faith in a way that few modern books manage to accomplish.
Overall, this was a powerful conclusion to a series that has become one of my favorites.
Sometimes a story is the only way back from the darkness.The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson
5 out of 5 stars.
Is this series worth it?
This series is reminiscent of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, and I don’t bestow such praise lightly. The prose is masterful, the characters vivid, and there are so many moments that spoke to my soul. It shows the wide array of what it means to live– to love, laugh, cry, and fight. Above all, to face darkness and emerge clinging tightly to the light. It points your heart toward what matters.
If you haven’t done so yet, do yourself a favor and pick up these books.
Have you read the Wingfeather Saga? Who’s your favorite character? I’d love to discuss these books with you in the comments!