I saw this book listed somewhere as a good kid’s book and was excited to see it was available as an audiobook. It was a perfect length for our 7-hour trip to Philadelphia. It’s also the first book in a four book series, so we should have more books to listen to!
Genre: middle grade fantasy
Length: 290 pages
Setting: on the continent of Skree in the world of Aerwiar, early industrial society
Summary: Janner, at 11, is not pleased to always be in charge of his eight-year old brother Tink, and six-year old lame sister, Leeli. He is pleased to be allowed to take them to the Dragon Singing Festival alone. Everything goes horribly wrong when Leeli disappears. She’s caught by some Fang soldiers, reptile-like creasure from across the sea that have conquered Skree, trying to protect her dog. Janner and Tink immediately come to her rescue, but it just result in them ending up in jail. They are bound for the Black Carriage until their mother ransoms them with some hidden jewels. Those jewels catch the eye of the highest ranking Rang in Skree. They show a link to the lost Jewels of Anniera, a conquered Kingdom from across the sea. The Igiby family has to flee, but the Fans are too quick. They are only able to escape with the help of Peet the Sock Man. The children finally learn what the Jewels of Anniera are and Peet’s ties to the family.
Final thoughts: I really enjoyed many aspects of this book. It starts out slow with an amusing prologue that sets the stage for the action to come. The narrator is describing the world where X is just like Y, except for this, and that, and this, oh and that as well. The prologue promised a delightful romp in a different world with slightly odd creature like horned hounds or toothy cows, but the action definitely gets intense by the end of the book. The Fangs were a suitably creepy villainous race that liked to eat gross things like maggot loaf. I also think the description of the Black Carriage that carries children off from their houses could give sensitive children nightmares.
The importance of family and sticking together was a theme of the book. Janner and Tink have several adventures, usually because Janner doesn’t want to let Tink go off alone. They come in handy when the family has to run from the Fangs. I was able to correctly guess what the Jewels of Anniera were, but I am a bit older than the target audience so I’m not surprised. I did not, however, correctly guess who Peet was. I did find Peet and Pogo’s ability to kill Fangs a bit too good, but I loved the family dynamics and the slowly building tension of the story.
I enjoyed the audiobook and was able to remember what was going on, even though it took weeks to finally finish the book. Apparently there are illustrations in the print version of the book, so I might need to look a copy and check those out.
Title comes from: The book was set in a village located on the edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. By the way, if the title doesn’t amuse you a little, this probably isn’t the book for you.
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #16 for 2018, and an O for my Title Reading the Alphabet Challenge.
If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!