A young, adopted woodtroll meets a host of unbelievable creatures in this first attention-grabbing episode of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's Edge Chronicles. Set in a fanciful world where "straying from the path" means certain danger, Stewart and Riddell's series conjures the spirits of Tolkien and other fantasy masters to create this original epic about Twig, a not-quite-normal woodtroll who decides to venture beyond the Deepwoods to seek his true destiny. After Twig leaves home, armed with only a knife and comfort cloth, he quickly discovers that the warnings are too true as he meets a host of life-threatening beasts, from hover worms to rotsuckers to termagants. Twig narrowly escapes every encounter with his woodland smarts and help from a few allies he meets along the way, but when he almost suffers a solitary death at the hands of a legendary being, his fate turns around for a joyful ending, leading audiences into Book Two and another adventure that promises as much action as this one. Stewart and Riddell format their series to look older and include plenty of classic atmosphere inside, making sure to include a tantalizing introduction, along with fascinating drawings of The Edge and of the book's many creatures. For readers who eat up the Spiderwick Chronicles, C. S. Lewis's Narnia books, and the like, this first Edge Chronicles installment will set them on a new journey that'll hook them from page one.
This charming British series, the Edge Chronicles, makes a transatlantic crossing with its launch title, a handsomely designed paper-over-board volume with pen-and-inks by the authors. In poetic prose, Stewart and Riddell invent the magical realm that culminates at the Edge (a precipice that resembles "the figurehead of a mighty stone ship"). The flow of water that ceaselessly falls off the Edge originates in the Deepwoods, where "countless tribes and strange groupings scratch a living in the dappled sunlight and moonglow beneath its lofty canopy." Twig, who is nearly 13, lives with a family of woodtrolls, but his non-troll appearance (except for the pointy ears) marks him as an outcast; it is not a total surprise when his "Mother-Mine" reveals that he was dropped "at the foot of our tree" as an infant. And so begins a journey that leads Twig to his destiny, as the ominous caterbird tells him, which lies "beyond the Deepwoods." The narrative will cast a spell over readers from the beginning with its utterly odd, off-kilter sense of logic and a vocabulary that is equal parts Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll ("Fromps coughed and spat, quarms squealed, while the great banderbear beat its monstrous hairy chest and yodelled to its mate"). The detailed artwork with numerous comic touches also offer clues to Twig's parentage (he bears a certain resemblance to a dreaded sky pirate who makes an early appearance). Twig winds up at the Edge, and his decision at the chasm leads him to self- discovery-and nicely sets up the next adventure, Stormchaser (-75070-6; also releasing this month), which sees Twig beginning his life as a sky pirate. Ages 10-12. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The first two installments of the British fantasy series "The Edge Chronicles" are set in the world of the Edge. In the first installment, Beyond the Deepwoods, Twig, a human abandoned on the doorstep of woodtrolls as an infant, is now a sullen teenager. He sets off to seek his destiny in Undertown, but first must make his way through Deepwoods, which is brimming with mysterious and perilous flora and fauna. Heart-stopping adventures come fast and furious as friends and foes become indistinguishable and more than once Twig narrowly misses becoming dinner. Eventually he assists sky pirates who have lost their "flight rock," and after more misfortunes and a close call at the precipice of the Edge, he joins the ship's crew, discovers the identity of his long-lost father, and safely makes his way to the city. The second installment finds Twig aboard the ship Stormchaser. The crew's mission is to locate a new supply of a magical, dangerous substance called "stormphrax," which keeps the city of Sanctaphrax stabilized as it floats above Undertown. The city's evil ruler has discovered a profitable new use for the substance, and his greedy depletion of the city's supply threatens to break the last remaining anchors that hold the floating land to the Edge. Twig again faces ambiguous foes, and while learning the ways of the sky pirates, he is inspired by his father's heroism. He also finds a love interest in an unexpected place. This second tale is more exciting than the first, as it mirrors the ripping yarns of traditional sea fiction. Riddell's evocative illustrations firmly fix the characters and settings in the reader's mind as the twisted plot maintains suspense. A cliffhangerending ensures future adventures. This tongue-in-cheek, sad, nonstop tale is suitable for fans of Harry Potter or Brian Jacques' Redwall series. VOYA Codes 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, David Fickling Books/Random House, 280p., Trade pb. Ages 11 to 15.
Gr 5-8-The first volume introduces Twig, a human boy being raised by woodtrolls in the Deepwoods. After he leaves his adoptive parents and "strays off the paths," he embarks on a series of encounters with strange creatures ranging from a "termagant trog" who keeps him as a pet to the "caterbird," whose hatching he witnesses. Twig survives a range of dangers and joins the sky pirate ship of Captain Cloud Wolf, learning secrets about his own past. In Stormchaser, Twig, now 16, finds himself involved in the politics of Sanctaphrax and in the conflict over "stormphrax," a magical substance that maintains the balance for the floating city and can be transformed into "phraxdust," which purifies water. As Cloud Wolf, Twig, and the crew travel in search of the Great Storm that creates stormphrax, they crash and travel through the surreal Twilight Woods. While Deepwoods seems more focused on introducing its setting and range of creatures than developing its characters, Twig grows and matures during his adventures in Stormchaser, and other characters gain depth as his adventures continue. Stewart has created a detailed, gritty fantasy world, bringing realism to even his most outlandish characters. Riddell's sketches bring detail, verve, and humor to the stark text. The rapid pace of events will draw in readers. Already popular in its England, this series will appeal to fans of J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books (Scholastic).-Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
PRAISE FOR THE EDGE CHRONICLES:
"Sure to please the Potter fans."
–Detroit Free Press
"The narrative will cast a spell over readers from the beginning with its utterly odd, off-kilter sense of logic and a vocabulary that is equal parts Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll."
"Good fun." –Kirkus Reviews
“Stunningly original.”—The Guardian (UK)
“A richly inventive fantasy . . . one of the most exciting collaborations between a writer and illustrator for a long time.”—The Literary Review (UK)