Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson

This is the third in The Wingfeather Saga.
Janner is recovering from his wounds on the ship commanded by his grandfather. The family is heading to the safety (they hope) of the Green Hollows. But they have been gone for nine years.
The reception goes well until Kalmar is seen. His Fang appearance drives the Hollowsfolk to attack him. The leader finally calms things down but there is great tension in Green Hollows as the Wingfeathers settle in their family home.
Janner, Kalmar and Leeli must attend school and there they meet their mother's old friend, a terror looking woman, the Guildmadam. Even she cannot erase the attitude the students have toward the newcomers, especially Kalmar.
While the Wingfeathers are getting settled in school, Sara Cobbler is being worked to exhaustion in the Fork Factory. She gathers a few fellow “tools” around her and begins to make plans for escape.
The Wingfeather children must join guilds. Leeli gets to be with the dogs who love her and with whom she can communicate. Janner wants to be in the bookbinding guild but when Kalmar chooses another, their mother makes Janner go along.
Janner fights the feelings inside of wanting to be angry with his brother. It seems like Kalmar is ruining everything Janner wants. And then Kalmar confesses – he was not forced to become a Fang, he chose it. He wanted the power he was promised. Janner suddenly realizes that all of the Fangs must have at one time been regular people. Fangs were people who had wanted the transformation or had succumbed to the awful pressure of "the song."
The Hollowsfolk are determined to get rid of Kalmar and have their children pick on him, trying to incite him to attack. One scratch on a Hollowsfolk and Kalmar goes to the dungeon, and so does his mother. 
 And then animals go missing. Is it Kalmar who is getting them in the night?
The Hollowsfolk say it is, and that he took a child too. The nooses are formed and the hanging platforms built. Is there any way Kalmar and his mother can be saved?

Besides being a great story for kids there are lessons for us adults too. Kalmar (and other members of the Wingfeather family) succumb to “the song” of Gnag the Nameless. Some withstand the repeated assault longer than others but are finally worn down under its continued barrage. So how do we do under the assault of the world's ways? How long do we maintain our Christian principles? Do we finally give in?
There is also the troubling issue of accepting someone who has succumbed to “the song.” Kalmar's appearance has become like that of a Grey Fang. (The other family members who have succumbed also have changes in their physical appearance.) The Hollowsfolk ultimately want to kill Kalmar, mostly because he looks like a Grey Fang, the hated enemy. So how do we as Christians treat someone who has been terribly stained by the world? Do we let their appearance put us off? What if a Christian succumbs to the world's song, do we write them off for good or do we look to the inner being of the person? It has been said that Christians “kill their wounded.” That is what the Hollowsfolk would do to Kalmar.
And what about the actual “monster in the hollows”? It was not who I thought it was but was instead a being trusted by the family. He was an agent of Gnag the Nameless, a traitor. (Why his physical appearance did not indicate his allegiance, I don't know.) So here is another lesson for us about wolves in sheep's clothing.
And then there is the cloven who is willing to walk into certain death to save a little girl.
Enough. You get the idea. These are just a few of the great teaching moments you will find. There is much to think about: appearance, true character, and how we can tell the difference.
What great discussions parents can have with their kids about the spiritual lessons in this book! I would suggest the parents read ahead of what the kids hear so they can have some Scriptures ready for the appropriate discussion.
Peterson reminds me of C. S. Lewis – a great fantasy with penetrating analogies to the Christian life.

Rabbit Room Press, 339 pages.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

See the publisher's information here.
Go to the Wingfeather Series web site here.
Check out the author's web site here.

This is one of several reviews of this book as I am part of the CSFF Blog Tour.  See other reviews on this tour:

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Cynthia Dyer
Amber French
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
 Eve Nielsen
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant

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