The Shadow of Malabron

( 1 )

Overview

A rich, absorbing fantasy follows a rebellious teen on his journey through the Perilous Realm, where dreams, fairy tales, and reality intersect.

When Will crashes his father’s motorcycle and stumbles into the Perilous Realm, all he wants is to find his way back to the world he knows. But he cannot get back the way he came, and as he soon discovers, his story is bound up with this mysterious land and with the very fabric of Story itself. Will is befriended by many strange people ...

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Overview

A rich, absorbing fantasy follows a rebellious teen on his journey through the Perilous Realm, where dreams, fairy tales, and reality intersect.

When Will crashes his father’s motorcycle and stumbles into the Perilous Realm, all he wants is to find his way back to the world he knows. But he cannot get back the way he came, and as he soon discovers, his story is bound up with this mysterious land and with the very fabric of Story itself. Will is befriended by many strange people and creatures — including Rowen, a girl with a special destiny of her own, and Shade, an unusual wolf — but he is also pursued by dark forces under the control of Malabron, otherwise known as the Night King, the Master of Fetches, and the Storyeater. As Will’s path crosses those of the inhabitants — both innocent and malevolent — of this strange new world, his choices will determine not only his own fate, but that of his new friends in the Perilous Realm.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Some readers may be initially disappointed that Wharton's children's book debut, first in the planned Perilous Realm trilogy, scoops up so many common fantasy elements: someone from our world accidentally ends up in a magical world, immediately meets a helper as danger threatens and later encounters a wise older character who knows the land's geography and history. But a fun twist awaits: the world where teenage Will Lightfoot finds himself (the aptly named Perilous Realm) is the place where all of Earth's stories originate (“The storytellers in your world have always traveled to the Realm, either in the flesh, as you have, or in their dreams and imaginings,” Will learns from the toymaker, Pendrake). Will and his companions seek a way home while fighting the minions of the evil Malabron, who is trying to enslave the entire realm, as well as other dangers. Most elements of the story are predictable, but the ways the characters deal with them are less so, and Will's companions move beyond their familiar tropes. Young readers will find much to keep them turning pages. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)\
Children's Literature - Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
In the first book of a projected series, Will Lightfoot, a rebellious young boy saddened by the recent death of his mother, steals a motorcycle and stumbles into an alternate world, where storybook characters abound, and everyone is frightened of a mysterious and evil lord. The book is readable, relatable, and interesting, if a bit familiar. At times, Will even mentions other popular fantasy and magic series (like Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings cycle), as if the author is trying to cover his bases and prove that his story is not a copy of theirs. The Perilous Realm itself is a fascinating concept weakened by its reliance on fairy-tales and medieval knight stories: in a realm truly made by story, it stands to reason that there would be a more diverse representation of folklore—and there are no realistic stories mentioned at all. Perhaps these stories will make their appearance in future installments, but for now their omission seems questionable and takes away from the book's engaging characters and interesting themes. Still, fans of fantasy and adventure will probably enjoy this offering, and it will probably appeal to a wide range of young readers, especially those in search of some healthy and thought-provoking escapism. Reviewer: Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Wharton's above-average quest fantasy begins when Will Lightfoot passes a sign for the Perilous Realm at the end of a long and dull car trip with his father and younger sister. Bored, frustrated, and grieving for his recently deceased mother, he steals his father's motorcycle and bikes back to the site. Looking through a series of eerie mirror shards scattered on the ground, the teen finds himself drawn into the Perilous Realm, a world made up of stories. He meets Rowen, a brave, able girl his age who leads him to the house of her grandfather Pendrake, a wise loremaster. He learns that Lotan, a servant of the Night King Malabron, has lured him into the Realm, and that Will must seek a new way out, with Lotan and his army of ghostly, malevolent fetches in pursuit. So begins Will's quest, and he is joined by Rowen and Pendrake, the young Knight Errant Finn Madoc, an ancient talking wolf called Shade, and the otherworldly protector Moth and his raven companion. Their journey is episodic: party members get into tight spots and get out, sometimes by their own wits, and sometimes when another character arrives at just the right moment. The Realm's metaphysics are unusual and intriguing: stories are both concept and substance, with the power to trap, seduce, and liberate. This is the first of a series, but the ending is satisfying enough that readers can take a breath before moving on to the next chapter in Will's journey.—Megan Honig, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
After Will Lightfoot steals and wrecks his father's motorcycle, he stumbles into a foreign world-a fractured realm in which stories originate and from which they migrate, transformed, into other worlds. Not able to use the portal by which he arrived, Will undertakes a seemingly impossible quest to find a gateless gate that will take him back to his home and family. His companions on this trek are a toymaker-cum-lore master and his granddaughter, a soldier and a talking wolf found by Will in the city library. Their group becomes seven on the road when they are joined by the mysterious Moth and his companion, a black bird named Raven. Lush descriptive prose, cleverly sustained suspense, a sprinkling of humor and an exciting climax will keep readers riveted to the story, while those who know their folklore will be delighted by Wharton's twisting of the tropes and tales of myth and legend. Give this book to readers who love their fairies gritty or their tales fractured. They will thank you for the recommendation. (Fantasy. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763639112
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Series: The Perilous Realm Series
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 845,220
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Wharton is an award-winning writer whose work for adults has been translated into several languages. An assistant professor of English at the University of Alberta, he lives in Edmonton, Canada.

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